2014 disruptions: Extremely smart watches and 3D printing

Writing for the New York Times, Nick Bilton says 2014 holds a “lot of promise” for wearable devices such as smartwatches.

“Predicting the future is a lot more difficult than evaluating the past, but you could wake up on Jan. 1, 2015, in a different digital winter wonderland,” Bilton opines. “You might wake up to the call of a watch on your wrist – not your cellphone on your night table.”

Indeed, analyst Sarah Rotman Epps confirms a new generation of smartwatches – designed to connect to smartphones – are going to create an “entirely new category of computing” in 2014.

To be sure, smartwatches will allows users to more conveniently view messages without having to pull cellphones out of pockets or purses. The devices are also expected to make it easier for the wearer to monitor his or her health with advanced heartbeat sensors.

“According to Citigroup, the global watch industry generated $60 billion in sales in 2013,” Bilton notes. “Numerous research estimates expect the smartwatch industry to generate billions more in revenue for consumer tech companies in 2014.”

Bilton also says 2013 was an important year for the evolution of 3D printers capable of replicating physical objects based on digital files.

“In 2014, we could start to see these devices become a fixture in our homes just as inkjet printers became a norm in the late 1980s,” he writes. “What will you use these for? Maybe you’ll make your own iPhone covers rather than buy them from stores, print out new salt and pepper shakers, or download a pattern and print a new part for your drone.”

Atmel-powered Ormerod 3D printer

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel AVR XMEGA and megaAVR MCUs can be found in the majority of 3D printers on the market, including the popular RepRap. It should also be noted that the lucrative 3D printing space is set for “explosive growth” in 2014 and 2015. To be sure, Gartner analysts expect worldwide shipments of 3D printers to increase by 75 percent in 2014, followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.

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