5 breakthrough technologies that will go mainstream in 5 years

This is my list of 5 technologies that you probably don’t know about yet, and that will go mainstream in less than 5 years. I’d like to check back here in 5 years to see just how right (or wrong) I am.

1. Online rendered games

OTOY delivers server based live rendering. That is a cool thing that can enable live playing of console games that you don’t own. Of course it can also be used more professionally by e.g. architects and film makers.


2. Peer to peer hosting

Opera recently announced Opera Unite, their server-less website technology. Although it may not be Opera itself that brings this mainstream, it will certainly change the world. Currently websites are all hosted and delivered by servers not owned by ourselves. The middleman known as ISP will always be in between, charging for services, blocking stuff at will, and basically controlling our behavior on the internet. We (that is everyone) don’t like this, and it needs to change. P2P (peer-to-peer) technology like BitTorrent is key to this, but only supports file sharing. What is needed is web-sharing. Opera Unite is still very beta and techie, but once a “publish button” is available, that could well change. You don’t need Flickr to share pictures with friends, really. But we do need powerful technology like PHP, Java, .NET to be integrated. Javascript alone doesn’t make for the most interesting sites.

3. Augmented reality

It will take a bit longer than just software, but the world is advancing fast to a point where we can start using this. Simply glasses with small screens on the inside will work. GPS in your phone and netbook help to render relevant scenes laid over the exact location you are at. “Assisted reality” may be the first step: point your phone to a product and see it’s specifications, price comparison etc directly on your phone’s screen.

Wikipedia article

4. Flexible displays

This is another one that I envision to arrive on the market soon (a couple of years). You just roll up your e-reader, or roll it out of your netbook. It’s already for sale.

5. Online software development

Sites like topcoder, guru, but especially oDesk will become the trend. But the people you hire will not be unknown to you. Through social networking, virtual presence and web cams they will be much more part of the company then just outsiders. This will require a change in culture though. Currently people are quite ‘scared’ of showing their face to someone on the other side of the Ocean. But just like social networking it will grow quickly.

Things that will go unnoticed

  • social networks – ok, they’ve already made it, but they will not change drastically, and you notice a fatigue starting in everyone who has had the facebook rush for a while. The close circle of friends will continue, but 900 friends? C’mon. Facebook/twitter will end up in Google’s or Microsofts hands anyway.
  • Google wave – It’s the marriage of IM, picture album, bulletin board and email. I believe it actually will take over as the next version of GMail, but it will not be much more than that.
  • Wolfram Alpha – one of the latest hypes. Ultimately just one of the places people may go to to find answers. Will probably be bought by Google anyway.

I had no place for it on the list, and it may take more then 5 years, but solar power will also make it, eventually (within 10 years).


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