It's 2009, a new year dawning with promise and possibilities, or with foreboding and ominous signs of economic collapse, depending on your point of view. But we here at DVICE are optimistic about the techno-future.
What technology would each of your humble DVICE narrators like to see in this fresh new year? We all got together to focus our vision into the future, and we invite you to join us for our look forward, revealing our hopes and dreams for the 12 months ahead.
Then, let us know in the comments section about what tech and gadgetry you'd like to see in the coming year. Go ahead, go out on a limb like we did, and we'll all take a look at what we wished for at the end of 2009, resulting in either raucous laughter or smug gloating, according to the accuracy of our prognostications:
Adam Frucci: With the addition of Netflix streaming support this year, the Xbox 360 took a big step towards being the center of my home theater experience. The next logical step will be to add support for Hulu streams, allowing users to watch hundreds of new shows and movies for free. It makes perfect sense, both for Hulu and for Microsoft, and it would give the Xbox 360 even more of an advantage over the Playstation 3, if that's even possible.
Kevin Hall: One technology I'd really like to see come into its own is high-bandwidth streaming media (movies, music, games, etc). Services such as Netflix have really helped the platform gain a strong foothold in 2008, but I think that after its inevitable saturation we'll see streaming everything in high quality at a low cost -- and it'll radically change the amount of content and information available to everyone. That's exactly what the Internet did.
Pete Pachal: I would love for 2009 to be the year of color E Ink. One of the things holding back e-readers like the Kindle and the Sony Reader (apart from being focused on the wrong market) is their black-and-white screens. Adding color would be a huge step toward truly replicating the experience of reading a magazine. There would also be another big product that would benefit from color E Ink: digital picture frames. Since E Ink doesn't emit light, digital frames that use it wouldn't shine brightly from across the room, making them a lot less tacky.
Adario Strange: I had this idea about 5 years ago while outlining the plot of a screenplay. We start with a square room, roughly the size of an indoor racquetball court, with a pressure-sensitive grid embedded in the floor. Each square in this floor grid can emit a particular sound sample and light flash when touched by sensors strategically situated along a unitard worn by a dancer. The unitard and the floor grid could be programmed to conform to a set of parameters designed to produce a specific sound composition and light sequence if the wearer properly distributes his body along the floor grid in the correct dance pattern. Thus, one could conceivably play "The Star Spangled Banner" while producing a red, white and blue kaleidoscope pattern.
The unitard could also be programmed to generate sounds only along the chromatic sound scale and colors only along the RGB spectrum, allowing the wearer to improvise fantastic new compositions of light and sound. The idea was that solo breakdancers/martial artists would compete in performances on this grid as spectators viewed the battles from an enclosed observation deck above the floor. This "Danger Room" is possible today via a combination of projects like the USB controlled Disco Dance Floor by a group of enterprising MIT students and the Dance-On Piano from FAO Schwarz. And it might have the odd effect of turning athletes into musicians/artists and artists/musicians into athletes and eventually having us all wonder aloud if the creator of the latest pop music hit was on performance-enhancing steroids.
Michael Trei: I'd like to see a self-configuring home theater system. Sure, we've been getting closer with things like auto speaker setup, but home theater rigs should be much easier to set up and optimize. Give me one that my Mom can connect, converts all signals to HDMI, automatically chooses the best surround mode — and always gets the video aspect ratio right — and I'll be happy.
Charlie White: My idea of gadget Utopia is to have wireless broadband everywhere. I'm hoping that 2009 will be a big year for WiMAX, bringing us closer to the day where any device can connect to the Net with speeds faster than most home wired broadband connections are today. As part of the upcoming economic stimulus initiative, the U.S. government should engage in a massive public works project similar to the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the '50s and '60s, except this time, build a huge wireless broadband system. Yeah, they could accurately call it the Information Superhighway. Finally.
Stewart Wolpin: I want TV on my iPhone. Slingbox just released a BlackBerry app, but for some reason the Slingbox iPhone app has been delayed and delayed. But if I can't watch MY TV on my iPhone, I'll settle for local DTV broadcasts. The ATSC just approved the mobile DTV standard, which will bring digital bullet-proof local broadcasts to any device equipped with a dongle or a tuner chip, but the first real toys (hopefully an iPhone dongle) won't be out for around a year. Damn it, I can't wait that long!