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Thursday, January 05, 2012
IEEE Predicts Consumer Technology Trends for 2012 at CES

IEEE, the world's largest technical professional association, goes beyond the marketing spin at next week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to highlight 12 top consumer electronics trends in 2012, as defined by IEEE technical experts in the industry.

- Powering Connections - The concept of a fully connected society will shift the way people work, think and live. If the technology can be connected, it will be. Ubiquitous, nonstop connectivity is what is next, predicts Dr.Henry Samueli, IEEE Fellow, chief technology officer at Broadcom Corporation, and a keynote speaker at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), co-located with CES. According to Dr. Samueli, that means improving global business operations with real time cloud-based data sharing, and seamlessly accessing information and entertainment in our homes and cars. Advances in miniaturized sensors will further enhance this connected world as we are able to monitor our health and our environment in real time, opening up endless new opportunities for innovative new healthcare models.

- A Tipping Point for Video Entertainment on the Web - Streaming web-based video on televisions has steadily gained popularity with consumers, but in 2012, the U.S. will reach a tipping point when users will extend beyond the tech-savvy and early adopters of Wi-Fi enabled TVs, says Richard Doherty, IEEE Senior Member. The upswing can be credited to widespread availability of video capable devices. Doherty predicts that by the end of 2012, nearly 50 percent of U.S. households and 35 percent of Canadian households will watch Internet video on full-sized TV screens (24-inch TVs or larger) from embedded IP video capable devices or add-ons such as videogame consoles, Blu-ray players or net media players.

- Patient Monitoring Technology Moves Into the Home - Advanced health monitoring technology will finally be available for use in homes and not just clinics and hospitals, says IEEE Fellow Stuart Lipoff. These new devices will allow consumers to take charge of their health care, finding ways to streamline their care to reduce costs. New patient monitoring systems, now only in hospitals, will be battery-powered and portable enough to be carried like a cellphone. These devices will monitor and communicate vital signs to a patient's doctor, saving patients from making time-consuming and costly trips to the hospital.

- Convergence of Home Networking Technologies - The number of networked devices consumers own is growing exponentially, including mobile phones and tablets. At the same time, says IEEE Associate Member Oleg Logvinov, consumers expect their content to be easily accessible - and secure - across all those devices. As a result, we will begin to see a new breed of simple, plug-and-play devices capable of finding all available network connections as soon as they are turned on, and the networks themselves will become smarter so that the right quality of service is delivered on every connection for the least amount of energy. According to Logvinov, these innovations are possible because we are seeing new technologies in the semiconductor industry that integrate many different networking technologies into a single chip in a cost-effective way.

- Advancing Long Term Storage with Ceramic - Digital files can't last forever. Family photos, music and other archived information have a limited lifespan on today's storage devices. However, IEEE Senior Member Tom Coughlin says we will see new advancements in hard drive technologies in 2012. Storage devices that etch data in ceramic will make it possible for stored information to last up to 1,000 years.

- Consumerization of IT Continues Relentlessly - Dr. Nahum Gershon, IEEE Senior Member, says in-home technology's influence on business technology decisions will continue to build in 2012. According to Dr. Gershon, who will be presenting at the 2012 International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), the consumerization of IT will drive companies to provide more access to social media networks and applications, as well as issue more mobile devices like tablet computers to their increasingly tech-savvy employees. A recent example is the increasing use of video chat applications such as Skype to connect business professionals working in different regions, says Gershon. In 2012, he predicts that people will begin using tablets and smartphones with geo-location applications to inform colleagues where they are working (e.g. in the office or off-site).

- Consumer Electronics as a Service - In 2012, electronics manufacturers will more widely pair their devices with services, applications and content provided to consumers via a remote server online (i.e. the Cloud). Apps for the Apple iPhone and Android phones are well-known current examples, but IEEE Fellow Stuart Lipoff predicts there will be more devices such as Apple TV and Internet-connected TVs drawing on content and services like email, calendars or address books that are maintained on remote servers. According to Lipoff, consumers will see more inexpensive devices with longer battery life because taxing hardware functions such as storage and computing power will be leveraged in the cloud rather than in the device.

- Smartphone Hacking to Increase in 2012 - John McCanny, IEEE Fellow, predicts that mobile security will be a rapidly increasing issue, due to convergence in mobile architectures, mobile phones becoming the dominant web platform and the expanding number of mobile users. In fact, 2012 will see a rapid growth in mobile malware given consumers' increasing preference for accessing the Internet from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Businesses will also be vulnerable as more professionals demand access to corporate networks from personal devices, increasing the risks of cyber attacks and cyber espionage.

- Natural Disasters Raise Global Consumer Electronics Prices - The electronic industry is feeling the impact of natural disasters, as major flooding in Thailand has disrupted manufacturing facilities, leading to a short supply of hard disk drives (HDDs) ? a key component for everything from DVRs to videogame consoles to laptops. According to Tom Coughlin, IEEE Senior Member, the ramifications of that shortage will more clearly surface in 2012 and production costs will surge in the short term. In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, there was a shortfall of 60-70 million drives vs. anticipated demand. In 2012, there will be a total shortfall of 120-150 million units vs. demand according to a study conducted by data storage consulting firm Coughlin Associates.

- Private Companies, Not the Military, Will Drive Major Technology Innovations - Radar, satellites, GPS, the Internet - military research has been the driving force behind some of the most important technology innovations in history. That will be much less the case going forward, predicts IEEE Senior Member Nahum Gershon. Private companies will start to play an even larger role in developing cutting-edge technology and products that will change the way individuals and business think and operate.

- Vehicles That Aid Drivers' Awareness of Surroundings - Consumers will begin to see more vehicles that can monitor their surroundings and warn drivers of traffic signs, pedestrians, other vehicles and lane departures, says IEEE Senior Member Alberto Broggi, who rode in a driverless car from Italy to China in 2010. More cars will apply advanced sensors to enable vehicles to detect and warn drivers of any immediate stops or dangers in the way of the vehicle, which can significantly decrease the likelihood of vehicle accidents.

- Automated Metadata Generation Makes Personal Content More Useful and Available - Information about information may sound redundant, but enabling devices to automatically aggregate and generate data such as location and timestamp can significantly improve how consumers manage and protect their personal photos, videos and music. In 2012, IEEE Senior Member Tom Coughlin says we will see new devices such as cameras that will automatically generate metadata information for all photos and videos from the device.

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