BusinessWeek is publishing a double issue focused on technology. For this article, Robert D. Hof visited universities, software and hardware companies, research labs and venture capitalists to track what will be the Next Big Thing.
Did he find it? He's not really sure. But "gadget or service, it may emerge from a global digital nervous system." Here are my personal choices among the things he found.
First, radio-equipped sensors networks.
[PARC Principal Scientist Feng Zhao's group] aims to create a sort of World Wide Web for sensors, because, like computers, they're most useful if they can communicate with one another. With a search engine he calls a "Google for the physical world," a store manager might log on and type in, "How many rolls of Charmin are left?" and get an instant answer from the sensor network. They might even be embedded in roads to measure traffic or in building materials to detect flaws.
Then, wireless networks.
[Yogen Dalal, a managing partner at Mayfield Fund] has funded a new company, PacketHop. Its technology lets people and companies create ad hoc networks by turning any mobile device into a data relay station. It sounds like yet another piece of my puzzle: something that lets people take network technology into their own hands and run with it wherever they will.
And in the end, social networks.
Surfing the Web, I happen upon an article by Howard Rheingold. The veteran tech observer and author has a new book, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, that links nearly all the things I've been tracking and much more.
Says Rheingold, who thinks this wave will be as big as the PC and the Net: "The killer apps of tomorrow will not be hardware or software, but social practices." It sounds a little scary. But maybe that's a mark of something big.
For more information, visit the Smart Mobs Website and Weblog.
BusinessWeek didn't neglect other trends. So read the four articles about tech waves that the magazine thinks will break in the near future.
If you want to read more, buy yourself a copy of the magazine.
Source: Robert D. Hof, BusinessWeek Magazine, August 25, 2003 Issue
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