Top tech advances for 2012

We are in the future. Or at least that’s what it feels like to me. Upon looking back at all the technological advances that the GCN Lab reported on or tested in 2011, I can’t help but get the feeling that the reverse-nostalgic future we’ve all envisioned is nigh. Here are five technologies we covered that point to some truly jaw-dropping developments for 2012.

You are a superhero

The consumer electronics front got a boost this year. Portable eye-scanners were introduced to the commercial market. Biometric authentication can be implemented remotely, and security personnel can add one more item to their utility belts and feel more like Batman. And everyone knows – superheroes are the future.

We don’t need no stinkin’ focus

The Lytro Light Field Camera is perfect for the amateur photographer who has trouble getting the focus just right. This camera records information on the direction of light rays reflecting off of photographed objects, so decisions on where the focus should be can be made in post production, when you’re looking at the perfect image on the computer.

Can a Star Trek-style holodeck be far behind?

You can’t hide

Military applications of future-tech were prevalent this year. When radar developed by MIT that can see through walls is perfected, troops will be able to determine exactly what might be in a building without having to risk lives by physically entering the unknown.

And when Alabama-based company Photon-X completes their facial-recognition camera as contracted by the Air Force, it will be a heck of a lot easier to identify and track criminals and terrorists by tiny motions in facial muscles that are unique to everyone.

Invisible tanks and tractor beams, oh my!

The thermal plates being developed by BAE will allow commanders to make their tanks invisible to infrared sensors, or even give off the outline of a smaller vehicle. Who knows – one day we might see a tractor beam that can move a tank, but that tank will already be harder to spot and target.

We salute our new machine overlords

What excites me the most about the near future are the computers that we’ll have. With tri-gate transistors that have three points of contact for the gate between the terminals, we will have processors with twice as many transistors as are currently available, operating with much less power than before.

The “racetrack” memory that IBM is working on can retrieve and write single bits of data in a billionth of a second. If they can pack on a bunch of bits onto each microscopic wire, then we will have ridiculously fast memory with huge capacity.

And if all of our portable computers have batteries using the silicon-graphene material in the anode currently being developed by Northwestern University, then they will also last 10 times longer, with one tenth the recharge time.

I long for this day to arrive. Come on, future, get over here! Hmm. Santa, for Christmas can I ask for the future? What, too soon?

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 Pedro S.C.

Love this article. I almost can’t wait for the future, though as the author points out, the future is right now. I also noticed there was a companion piece about the top tech failures of the year which was also quite funny. You should let people know to read them together to see what a wild ride 2011 really was.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011

If you ever wanted to know why the US is falling behind the rest of the world in using technology as a driver of economic growth, your article explains it. The intellectual resources and money going to defense is draining it away from useful development in the civilian (read economic growth) sector of the economy.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 Dennis

Hey Greg, on the facial recognition thing - Botox! Crooks will be buying it by the gallon. They will have faces like stone. Not a twitch. Not even a minute one. Oh, I guess we'll be able to spot them just as easily then. They'll all look like Joan Rivers:)

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 Edmond Hennessy United States

Mr. Crowe's article is refreshing and timely. Realize that he is only doing a short, tree-top glimpse of some of the exciting, technology statements taking shape. Probably, worth reflecting for a moment (only) on some of the current, fully-operational whiz-bangs over the last two decades - all a marvel. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/UAS's - now referred to, as drones. Anti-cruise, missile detection systems hosted on surface-ships that can distinguish, between the bad guys and a beluga whale. New-age, technologies and beefed-up vehicles that can identify, detect, protect and disarm roadside bombs. Sensor-to-shooter, advanced technologies that can pinpoint and destroy a target the size of a gnat (that precise). And, lest we not forget what is taking shape, within hallowed halls, like DARPA and other research department gems - the real stuff that will rival the visions of the greatest, Science Fiction minds of all time. This continues to be a prolific time for Innovation and Advancement, although let us not forget the respect and consideration we muat maintain for all of these brain-trusts and the underlying message - that there must be an element of control to make sure that they do not run amok and turn against us. A little "Terminator" paranoia is a good thing. Hope that Mr. Crowe will continue this drive and put more articles, like this one, to keep us all in suspense.

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