Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment – Buddha.
It’s that time of year, time to predict what’s going to happen. For me, prediction is just talking about stuff I’m doing now that’s too out there to be interesting to more than a few people. Five and 10 year predictions are fun, but I’m going to stick to next year. The following is a list of things I think we’ll see more of in 2012. In the list, I cover: drones, wearables, the Internet of things, Arduino, Kinect, 3D printing, hackerspaces, and crowd funding. This is all meant to be a fun conversation starter. Post up your predictions and thoughts in the comments. In one year, we’ll check back and see how we did.
In 2011, the “person of the year” was the protester. What’s 2012 going to have? More protests and ways to cover them. Low-cost, citizen made UAVs will make appearances. The operators will be first on the scene, to protests and to the natural disasters. Drone Journalism. To watch, stream, record, report, sense and to watch the watchers. The cellphone video cameras from the street will have wings.
From FitBits to JawBone UPs, the next great interface frontier is away from the ubiquitous touch screen on our phones, to our bodies. From things to help us track our sleep to electronic jewelry – electronics are small and cheap, skin real estate is going on the market. There will be a dozen “smart watches” that will try to live on your wrist. The gadget makers and fashion industry will start to employ many of the innovations and interesting technologies first starting in maker communities and hackerspaces.
Internet of things
The glue for devices to talk to each other is getting pretty sticky. Everything will have an IP addresses, everything will “talk.” Net-connected thermostats and Kickstarter products will do all the little things better, easier, and on the web. Your clothes dryer will finally text you when it’s done, and it will be cause you, yes you, easily put a few devices together to do this — and it just “worked.” An open-source Pachube might make an appearance.
Arduino hits 1 million units
The “Internet of things” requires that glue I was talking about, and that’s Arduino, the little open source hardware platform that was made for designers, will hit 1 million units shipped by the end of 2012. If you have an idea like empowering your plants to call you when they need water, you’re going to use an Arduino to get started. Turns out, everyone has a million ideas to make things better. And now they can realize those ideas. It won, it’s here to stay.
Microsoft continues to build a giant business around the Kinect (hacks) – in November of 2012 it will be two years after the open source, robotics, art, and design communities innovated and created amazing examples of what can be done with an open-style Kinect. We’ll see a higher resolution version of the Kinect that will change gaming, desktop interactions, and the hackers and makers will lead the way again with cool projects.
Speaking of 3D printing, MakerBot got $10m in 2011 and Shapeways is opening up a facility in NYC. This will make New York the world capital of 3D printing. We’ll also see more acquisitions of 3D printing companies as they all move towards low-cost printers for everyone. We’ll start to see more and more of them, and this, of course, will cause some good problems. I think Autodesk is going to buy or build a low-cost 3D printer company in 2012. MakerBot, Shopbot, Techshop, companies that end in a ‘bot sound.
More libraries become Hackerspaces
In 2012 we’ll see and hear about dozens of libraries specifically moving towards “hackerspaces.” Community areas with lots of space and eager makers will come together after a few successful pilot programs work out. The cranky people who didn’t think computers belonged in the library will sound like the next round of cranky people who do not think 3D printers belong in libraries either.
The first stop on the next big idea will be sites like Kickstarter. One of the top projects this year was Printrbot, a DIY-style 3D printer – it received $830,827 in funding. As makers turn pro, VC (venture funding) will seem less attractive than getting their biggest fans to support them directly. Even the government is making it easier to raise money crowd-funding style.
“Merit badges” for modern skills
The world is changing so fast that new skills are required faster than traditional education facilities can create and deliver curriculum. In 2012, we’ll see many efforts to reward and celebrate quickly-learned modern skills. The Girl Scouts are adding new badges such as “Money Manager, Budgeting, Financing My Future, and Good Credit” and there’s more… “For Job Hunters, Digital Merit Badges” – Digital Badges May Highlight Job Seekers’ Skills @ NYTimes.com
Now the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is putting millions of dollars into a competition to spur interest in a new type of badge — one that people can display not on their clothing but on a Web site, blog, or Facebook page while they are looking for a job.
When kids play Xbox, they strive to be on the leader boards for high scores. In 2012, we’ll see learning skills earned as a scoring system, too.
Got predictions? Are mine completely bonkers for 2012? I’d like to close out with one more quote…
Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future – Steve Jobs
Post up in the comments!