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More cool trends the CES missed


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(Editor's note: This is the second of two parts. Read Part One.)

Here are some more emerging trends everyone missed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show:

7.) The Emerging Operating System Battlefield - In general terms, an operating system is the software operating in the background that manages hardware and software resources and provides a set of common services to make everything run better.

Today’s most common operating systems include Android, iOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows. Each one has its own feature set that makes applications easier to build and more uniform.

The need for new types of operating systems became apparent when smartphones started entering the picture a decade ago.

As smart technology begins to enter nearly every field, the need for new operating systems has never been greater, and companies are racing to fill the void.

To give you some examples, the operating system for driverless cars will be distinct and different than the operating system for flying drones. At the same time we are seeing a need for separate operating systems for smart homes, the Internet of Things, wearable technology, health tech, learning tech, and robots.

Every unique operating system will have its own unique privacy and security issues, industry standards, language biases and feature sets.

Those who control the rules of the game will have a huge advantage over everyone else. The OS wars are still in their infancy, and most of the winners will be decided over the next five years.


8.) Molecular-Level Scanners to Drive Tomorrow’s 3D Printing Industry - The 3D printing world is gaining lots of attention, but often lost in the shadows is a rapidly developing scanning industries with capabilities few ever imagined.

Not only will future scanning technologies be able to scan shapes with nano-scale precision, they will be able to parse exacting details of materials used in every molecule-thick layer of the object being scanned.

This means that someone will eventually be able to scan a smartphone, and with a multi-material 3D printer, reproduce the entire device in exacting detail.

For bio-printing, this means a person that has their finger cut off can have a replacement one printed and surgically connected in a way that few, if any, will know the difference.


9.) Shapeshifting Smart Products - When I first saw the IntelliPillow, a shapeshifting sensor-driven pillow that automatically knows when you’re sleeping on your side or back and adjusts itself accordingly, it reminded me of the columns I wrote on smart shoes and smart car seats over a decade ago.

The three things that the human body interacts with the most in life are the chairs we sit in, the shoes we walk in, and the beds we sleep in. People will pay dearly for any technology that can optimize any of these three friction points.

Using sensors to monitor layers of pressure, and either expanding gels or air systems to compensate for the changing conditions, shapeshifting products are destined to be all the rage in the coming years.


10.) Touch-Responsive Surfaces - As I came across the Bang & Olufsen ‘BeoSound Moment’ device, I realized I was looking at the world’s first touch-sensitive wood interface.

Extending far beyond glass touch screens of the past, touchable wood opens the door for any number of other touch sensitive surfaces like rock, stone, tile, or even concrete.

But who says we need to confine our thinking to hard surfaces. Will we be creating touch-sensitive carpets, leather, clothing, and upholstery? The answer will soon be an unequivocal yes.


11.) 3D Printing Combined with Robots Paves the way for Large Scale 3D Sculpting & Design - When 3D printing goes mobile, it opens the door for an entirely new kind of design and architecture.

If we can imagine a 3D printer that drives over, refills its tank with material, drives back and precisely extrudes the material into place, you’ll begin to understand the potential here.

Now, consider 100 or 1,000 mobile printers, either mounted on ground based or flying drones, working in swarms to build an entire building. That day is not too far off.

Most large structures of the future will be built this way. This will include everything from cruise ships, to baseball stadiums, hospitals, bridges, skyscrapers, hotels, apartment complexes, and giant sculptures.

Gone are the days of constrained thinking. Tomorrow’s mobile 3D printer technology will unleash a world of creative possibilities unlike anything we’ve ever imagined.


12.) The Massive Growing Need for Micro Colleges - Every new technology creates a need for more training. Very often it ends up being niche learning that takes place in-house with existing employees. But we’re also seeing a growing refinement of industries driving the need for huge new talent pools that currently don’t exist.

Whether its virtual reality, specialized 3D scanning, 3D printing, mobile apps, Internet of Things, flying drones, or reputation management, the need for tech-savvy fast-to-adapt talent pools is growing, and growing quickly.

This is also an area where traditional colleges have missed the boat. Their attempt to put everything into a 2-year or 4-year framework has left the largest untapped opportunity ever for short-term full-immersion courses that help workers reboot their career.

The rapid growth in coding schools such as our own DaVinci Coders is only a tiny slice of a much larger Micro College pie that will get created over the coming years.


Final Thoughts

In the futurist world, trends are often based on loose signals derived from a few key data points and overlaid on some future timeline.

The trends I’ve described above are a combination of empirical evidence, past observations, industry research, and a fair amount of conjecture on my part.

In many cases, the 1+1=3 formula I use comes from a Situational Futuring technique I’ve been developing over the past few years.

There is great value in this line of thinking because it unlocks possibilities, and more importantly for both individuals and businesses, it can unlock key competitive advantages in a world where differentiation is always a hard fought battle.

As always, I‘d love to hear your thoughts. Please take a moment to weigh in on these and other topics that you find interesting.
 

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Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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