5 New Technologies That Will Change Everything

3D TV, HTML5, video over Wi-Fi, superfast USB, and mobile "augmented reality" will emerge as breakthrough technologies in the next few years. Here's a preview of what they do and how they work.

USB 3.0
USB may be one of the least-sexy technologies built into present-day computers and mobile devices, but speed it up tenfold, and it begins to sizzle. Cut most of the other cables to your computer, and the standard ignites. Bring in the potential of uncompressed video transfer, and you have a raging fire.

Any task that involves transferring data between your PC and a peripheral device--scanning, printing, or transferring files, among others--will be far faster with USB 3.0. In many cases, the transfer will be complete before you realize it has started.

Video Streaming Over Wi-Fi
Wired ethernet has consistently achieved higher data speeds than Wi-Fi, but wireless standards groups are constantly trying to figure out ways to help Wi-Fi catch up. By 2012, two new protocols--802.11ac and 802.11ad--should be handling over-the-air data transmission at 1 gbps or faster.

Today's Wi-Fi will be left in the dust by 802.11ac and 802.11ad, both of which will be capable of carrying multiple video streams and of operating at far higher data rates.

When television makers introduced HDTVs, it was inevitable that they would figure out a way to render the technology obsolete not long after everyone bought a set. And they have. The next wave in home viewing is 3DTV--a 2D picture with some stereoscopic depth.

As 3D filmmaking and film projection technology have improved, Hollywood has begun building a (still small) library of depth-enhanced movies. The potential to synthesize 2D movies into 3D could feed demand, however--the way colorizing technology increased interest in black-and-white films in some circles in the 1980s. For movies based on computer animation--such as Toy Story 3D, a newly rendered version of the first two movies in the series--it's already happening.

"Augmented Reality" in Mobile Devices
Augmented reality is a catchall term for overlaying what we see with computer-generated contextual data or visual substitutions. The point of the technology is to enhance our ability to interact with things around us by providing us with information immediately relevant to those things. In less immersive fashion, we may all become gargoyles as “augmented reality” becomes an everyday experience.
Babak Parviz, a professor at the University of Washington specializing in nanotechnology, is working on a bionic contact lens that would paint imagery and information directly on the eye to augment reality.

Web pages built with HTML5 will display the same on any browser--desktop or mobile.
In turn, Website designers and Web app developers won't have to deal with multiple incompatible formats and workarounds in their efforts to create the same user experience in every browser. HTML5 is now completing its last march toward a final draft and official support by the World Wide Web Consortium.

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