5 technologies that will make sense in 2015

New technology is a wonderful thing, but waiting to get it into your hands can be maddening. It's all very well when Nikon launches a compact camera or Sony a new version of the PSP, but take it beyond the realm of consumer hardware and that lag time can go on forever.

So, while we're spending time during Future Week looking at things that have barely been thought of and things that never made it, today is the turn of the technologies still waiting for their moment in the sun. Here's our take on five that have arrived today, but will probably only have made the splash they meant to by 2015.

 

WiMAX

What's the hold up?
No product support
Worth the wait?
Probably

The idea of WiMax has been around for so long now, that it almost feels like a backward concept. Kicking around as a telecommunications standard since 2001, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access - as its mum might refer to it when it's done something wrong - offers excellent wireless internet connection speeds as well as fantastically broad "hot-spot" coverage. The idea is that, simply speaking, WiMAX radio towers can work in two ways. The first is to offer large-scale public access with a radius of up to 30 miles to those on the go, and the second is to transfer the signal onto and back from other towers and to homes instead of having to use fibre or copper hard wired cables.

It's a good idea for a number of situations, but the problems have been finalising the standards, building these towers and company's coming out with devices of a decent price point that support WiMAX too. With the launch of a couple of phones and laptops here and there, the products are starting to come and there are already sites and plans for a number of the major telecommunications companies in the US, the UK and all over the world.

With exceedingly fast fibre on its way and LTE for mobile just around the corner, WiMAX may not have quite the uptake everyone dreamed of but, provided someone (not consumers) is willing to pay for it, then it could be a big player in major city centres and in less densely populated areas where running fibre to a small number of homes just isn't economical come 2015.

 

Large Hadron Collider

What's the hold up?
Malfunctions & long leads
Worth the wait?
Fingers crossed

The LHC managed to get a fantastic amount of interest and uproar in equal measure when it was first switched on back in September 2008. Unfortunately, it was switched off again after 9 days when 6 tonnes of liquid helium leaked out of it. It was over a year before they could start firing protons around it once more.

Now, back in operation, it's smashing sub-atomic particles together at increasingly rapid rates, but it's going to take a good 3 years before any reliable data comes out of it on whether or not concepts like the Higgs Bosan actually exist. So, hopefully, by 2015 the physicists should be blowing our minds with what they've discovered. Either that or looking a little red-faced when all they find on the insides of these things is a fortune cookie note reading "The pleasure of what we enjoy is lost by wanting more" or something equally cosmically trite.

 

RFID

What's the hold up?
Confidence
Worth the wait?
Yes

Radio frequency identification technology has been out and about for a little while now and it's being used quite happily in our Oyster Cards, for a few contactless payments here and there, as well as in the ears of cattle to keep a track of them. In the grand scheme though, that's pretty low penetration for something that could be so universally useful.

There have been trials with putting the chips in mobile phones so that we can make all our payments through them, but they haven't hit the big time as yet. What we really want is to then replace barcodes with them, but that's going to end up making product labels more expensive than the goods they surround, so probably not quite going to happen.

The really big one though is whether we'll end up inserting them under our own skin? There's plenty of reasons why not in terms of ID theft, unwanted advertising as much as anything else, but it could make payments and all sorts of other actions incredibly fluid and fuss-free. Whatever the final verdict, you can bet that 5 years down the line we'll be seeing a hell of a lot more of RFID - in everyone's mobile device at the very least.

 

3DTV

What's the hold up?
Content
Worth the wait?
Jury's out

Sky launched its HD service 4 years ago and only now is it really catching on in a major way. Plenty of people have had it for a while, but it's only since consumers have begun replacing their TV sets as a matter of natural course that they've ended up signing up for the HD revolution - regardless of whether they liked it or not.

The same is going to be true of 3DTV. The first sets are only arriving this year and it's going to take quite a lot for people to go making another hardware change so quickly. What's more, of course, there's hardly any content available for the standard anyway - both in terms of feature films on Blu-ray and on broadcast as well. Add the fact that it's going to take a while for directors to work out how to really tell stories using this new medium and it'll be around 2015 before we're writing about Freeview 3D and its mass uptake.

 

Google

What's the hold up?
World domination takes time
Worth the wait?
Arguably

If You think Google's big now, then open your eyes. Search is just the beginning or really the foundations on which its other ambitions and applications will be built. Just take a look at all the bits and pieces the Big G has brought out over the last few years - Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Translate, Images, YouTube, Picasa, Earth, Maps, Maps for Navigation, Voice, Wave, Buzz, Latitude and, of course, that's just a few of them.

The point now is that they've gone beyond just web pages and apps. With a browser, mobile OS and soon a desktop platform of its own, Google has taken a large step closer to us. The company has even recently announced plans to come to our TV screens too. Come 2015, the company's ecosystem is really going to have started to take its true shape. Whether you think that's a good idea or a nightmare is another thing.

If you enjoyed this article, then head over to our Future Week homepage where you'll find a collection of features on what gadgets will be like in the year 2015.