GasElectricDual FuelEnergy Star Certified
Main Content

2012: Year of Warp Speed, Other Innovations

Suburban experts predict top technology trends

By: Anna Marie Kukec | December 23, 2011

Speech recognition software and a revolutionary TV are expected to take center stage in 2012, along with almost-warp speed for next-generation tablets and other devices, according to suburban technology executives.

As the new year approaches, a dozen experts looked ahead to forecast what consumers and business people can expect. Here's a rundown on some of their thoughts:

Roger Matthews, president of The Northwest of Us Mac User Group, Palatine: When Steve Jobs was still alive he worked with his biographer, Walter Isaacson. In the book, "Steve Jobs," he stated that Apple had cracked the code for a revolutionary, easy-to-operate television. What many think the future TV will look like will be a voice controlled TV.

The latest iPhone uses Siri, which helps the phone execute various voice commands.

That same technology could be transferred to a TV. Imagine walking into your family room and using your voice speaking the words, "TV on" or "Channel 5 please," or even better "record Bears game 7 p.m." No more searching for the remote.

No more hassle in programming your DVR or VCR, let alone the Internet possibilities directly from your TV.

Rumors have it that Apple is already working with Sharp Electronics on a TV project. We'll stay tuned to see what comes of this.

Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTia, Downers Grove: Tablets, laptops and smart phones are high on 2012 shopping lists, as businesses take a more cautious approach when spending on "immobile" network, workstations and traditional PCs.

Though there are still times and places for that type of technology, the big move is to tablets, notebooks and smart devices. Embracing and allowing smart phones and smart devices into and onto your network is an opportunity for any firm to become more nimble.

The "technocracy" — where IT departments maintained strict control over computing and technology options in the workplace — is over. The consumerization of IT has blurred the lines between work and home devices.

Also social media is an increasingly critical component for business. But social media is a different style of communication and it must be used in different ways than traditional marketing.

Finally, cloud computing is one of the most hyped IT strategies in recent years, with technology vendors scrambling to provide cloud-enabled technologies and businesses trying to figure out if this new model can deliver on its promises of cost savings. Beyond the hype, cloud is indeed a strategy that proves beneficial to end-users.

Jon Abt, owner of Abt Electronics, Glenview: I think motion technology, used in Microsoft's Kinect, as well as natural language user interface, used in Apple's iPhone 4S, will continue to make their mark into more mainstream products in 2012 making them two of the hottest new technologies to watch in 2012. Since both technologies make things easier to use, consumers will flock to them.

Vikram Saksena, Tellabs executive vice president and chief technology officer, Naperville: People are relying on the mobile Internet for more things than ever — from their personal communications, to business, to keeping the lights on. In 2012, we'll see many more "connected homes" including TVs and Blu-ray players equipped with Wi-Fi connections and connected devices such as Apple TV. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Much more will come in future years.

Greg Brewster, director, Center for Advanced Network Studies, School of Computing, College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University, Chicago: Although it may not make much difference to consumers, the hot new technology for the technical people, who operate and support our networks in 2012, will be IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), which is a new addressing system for the Internet.

Since the 1970s we have used IPv4 which uses the familiar 4-number IP addresses, such as "," where each number is a decimal value between 0 and 255. However, we have nearly used up all possible addresses in this system and every device on the Internet needs a unique IP address. As we add more and more new devices to the Internet, we will quickly exhaust the remaining IPv4 addresses.

In the new IPv6 system, IP addresses consist of 8 hexadecimal values, of 1-4 digits each, separated by colons, for example, your PC's IP address might become "2A01:556B:19:33:BCD:2432:1122:13" — rather messy-looking, huh?

The Asia-Pacific region ran out of IPv4 addresses last summer. New Internet devices in Asia are now assigned public IPv6 addresses only. Europe will run out in mid-2012. North America is expected to run out in late 2012 or early 2013.

Keith Yanke, director of product marketing, NEC Display Solutions, Itasca: The dynamic nature and interoperability of NEC's Interactive Software with NEC projectors and iPads are facilitating new forms of teaching and learning — in the classroom and in corporate environments.

The NEC solution is a cleaner, more reasonable approach to making more of the tablet phenomenon than purchasing a lot of new hardware. It allows users to interact with peers and colleagues, increase participation, annotate documents in real time, create handwritten lessons for playback and projector control.

Alex Jarett, president, Technology Executives Club, Libertyville: The biggest trend we are seeing at the enterprise level is a transition to the mobile enterprise. According to IDC, there are already more mobile devices than TVs, computers and radios combined. The emergence of new platforms, such as the tablet, combined with smart mobile phones and expanded wireless access have created a need for IT executives to both respond to integrating these devices into their normal environment, as well as a desire for businesses to take advantage of the opportunity.

Mitch Bowling, senior vice president of new business, Comcast Corp.: Xfinity Home Security is rolling out and will be coming to the Chicago area in mid-2012.

The broadband-based system allows consumers to protect their home with an alarm and surveillance cameras with a very secure system. It also allows them to remotely program how lights and the thermostat turn on and off. The system fits in with our other broadband products, allowing the home to be operated as a smart home.

Dave Fine, AT&T vice president, general manager of Illinois and Wisconsin, Hoffman Estates: I think 2012 will be the year when consumers embrace cloud computing. Whether it is a business presentation or videos of a family vacation, people will find it convenient to store their materials in the cloud and access them from anywhere and with any device, be it a personal computer, tablet or Smartphone.

Cloud storage will give people the security of knowing their materials are protected from computer crashes or lost or stolen devices.

We are on the cusp of yet another watershed moment in the way business is conducted and the way people communicate. All of this is predicated on fast network speeds and the incredibly fast speeds of 4G LTE network in the Chicago area.

Martin Slark, CEO of Molex Inc., Lisle: One new technology that we have been involved with could be very important in 2012. It's low-voltage magnetic LED array lighting. It offers a flexible, low-voltage alternative to standard lighting that is energy efficient while generating up to 1,200 lumens of light from a single LED array. Available in a variety of colors and beam angles, it makes it easy to quickly change lighting in homes or businesses. This technology is also ideal for use in places that may not be on the grid or have limited access to electricity since these LED lights also run on 24 volt renewable energy batteries. Versatile, portable and easy to move from place to place, this task lighting makes it easy to bring light to places that might otherwise be dark, even in Third World countries.

Bill Payne, head of Advanced Technologies, CTO North America, Nokia Siemens Networks, Arlington Heights: 2012 will be the year that 4G wireless, termed Long Term Evolution, will become mainstream.

The early deployments occurred in 2011, but in 2012 we will see larger footprints of LTE coverage in the major U.S. city centers. We will also see the advent of LTE based smartphones that will be able to take advantage of the increased network capabilities and performance. I expect that we will see a 4G LTE Apple iPhone by the end of 2012.

I also think that 2012 will be the year that the industry finally solves the convergence of TV, Internet and living room. There have been multiple attempts at this, but the cost/performance ratios of compute and signal processors are finally at a point where solutions are becoming affordable.

Jonathan Ruff, senior director, Motorola Mobility, Libertyville: For 2012, the tablet and smartphone market will continue to move at an astronomical pace with greater adoption of these devices and the ways consumers interact with them.

As recently as five years ago, mobile phones were scratching the content surface, tablets weren't a reality yet and in-home content was driven by TV or the Internet. In 2012 the multi-screen experience will be the norm among consumers with already more than 4.5 billion people globally using their tablets or smartphones to watch TV and 3.5 billion using these devices to connect to social media.

The 2012 converged world will create a lifestyle change with consumers giving them the ability to control their homes, finances, social circles and content from anywhere in the world with a connected device.

Copyright © 2011 Paddock Publications, Inc.