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Inspecting gadgets: a tech wish list for 2014

The Oculus Rift headset, expected to be released in 2014, allows users to immerse themselves in 3D virtual reality gaming. Flickr: Sergey Galyonkin

In 2014, we will see more intelligent, less expensive versions of autonomous vacuum cleaners, pool cleaners, lawnmowers and gutter cleaners.

We will hear more about gadgets that track eyes, customers’ motions, and their sound.

But will we see a reliable iRobot that doesn’t do silly things for YouTube? Undoubtedly, there will be more clips of cats on Roombas in the year ahead.

Hopefully we will see more iDrones with their amusing 3D movements in the air. I for one, would like to see gladiator drone robots fighting with each other – what could be more fun than that?

In 2014, motor vehicle drivers will see the emergence of more windscreen projection technologies. As an occasional driver, I find it impossible to stick to the right speed limit by simultaneously looking through the windscreen and monitoring dashboard displays. Hopefully windscreen projectors will spill over to more mid-range priced cars.

The CASIO watch calculators were very popular in 1980s but within a decade they had almost vanished. Now they have made a resurgence as a retro fashion accessory. Could smart iWatches take off in 2014? Unfortunately, we no longer have Steve Jobs to make them appealing, beautiful and practical.

There are still many practical problems with iWatches. They can be limited to specific tasks and ideally, should interact by voice rather than by keypads. Considering the troubles Apple had with SIRI, it might be a while before voice functionality will be seen again.

Samsung watch designs are not very smart.

In August, CASIO was reported as being ready to face the watch competition from giants like Apple and Samsung. CASIO’s chief executive Kazuo Kashio said

Suddenly, everyone’s discovered the wrist. We’ve known for a long time it’s prime real estate. We’re prepared.

Virtual reality headsets, such as Oculus Rift should emerge in the market in 2014. The Oculus team has been working on such headsets for a while. In these systems, movements are controlled via the Xbox gamepad. The 7-inch high resolution display and built-in motion detection are highlights. It will hopefully mean that the users can be both optically and mechanically immersed in a virtual world.

I have a newborn son and cannot wait until his second birthday in order to use him as an excuse to buy electronic toys. I still love Lego. More advanced versions of LEGO Mindstorms Kits that create your own robot will be in the market.

The 3rd generation Mindstorms Kit has user friendly iOS and Android apps and many more sensors for environmental interactions. Lego promises the ability to personally customise the programming, with many other imaginative possibilities.

iMusic Body Rhythm may make a buzz with its newly designed gadget by Uwe Diegel, who is both a pianist and product designer. With this product, you can finally feel the rhythm of your music. It is a massage vest that responses to music beats by connecting the vest to your iDevice. It is a wired, weird sensation and could become very popular.

What about poor teachers and students in 2014? Their lives, as well as many others, have often been haunted by constant PowerPoint presentations and the large projectors that are needed to screen them. I have a few academic friends who constantly carry projectors and are now either muscly or permanent clients of chiropractors.

Soon we will be able to carry our own high quality mini projectors with efficient Wi-Fi and Digital Living Network Alliance functionality, like the ones by Philips and Acer.

They are still a bit heavy though. Pico projectors are much lighter but the output light intensity is not good enough.

What ever happened to lab on-a-chip devices that could be connected to your computer or smart phones? In 2014, I would like to see that some basic medical analysis can be done using a droplet of my blood by my iPhone rather than experiencing the excruciating needle pains at a doctor’s office.

Why did James Bond in Casino Royale have access to this in 2006, but we still don’t have them in the market? What is wrong with these bio companies?

To finish, I would appeal to Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin to let us use our electronic gadgets in 2014 during take-off and landing. How is it that Europeans are allowed to do this now and we cannot in Australia? Perhaps flight attendants enjoy telling us to turn them off too much.

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