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3D printing will go mainstream, printing at home?
It's Star Trek technology or primitive replicators coming to our century. Printing was, for years, limited to the business environment. Eventually it arrived in homes to consumer users. But, the next step in printing comes in three-dimensions -- 3D printing -- giving users the ability to 'print' (with lasers and computer-aided cutting machines) items for machines, computers, and even body parts.
It will only be a matter of time before home users will be able to download schematics and blueprints from the Web and create their own products from their home office as the technology becomes more simplified.
It's a distance away yet, but 2013 will see a dramatic rise in the 3D printing sector, along with the associated ethical issues with it. Should you be able to print a firearm at home? Should 3D printers be used with stem cells to build body parts? And should the schematics or blueprints be offered through 'pirate' sites? Where there will be 3D printing, there will likely be strict regulation.
Augmented reality will become... reality with Google Glass, others
A relatively new technology, the idea of 'augmented reality' in the real world involves holding up a phone's camera to produce real-life items that will 'light up' and display information. Your phone's screen is a looking glass to the wider world, and you could explore your surroundings with 'hidden' nuggets pulled from the Web.
With the announcement of Google Glass earlier this year, the search giant is bringing the augmented 'reality' one step closer by cutting out the middle-man device. The glasses include a heads-up display where those who wear the device can check their messages, record video, and see additional information about the environment they are in.
While Google Glass isn't expected until 2014, the wider industry will be working frantically to bring their own offerings to the table. It will also open up the floodgates to other competitors jumping in and offering their own solutions to a problem that never actually existed. Perhaps a fad for now, augmented reality and Google Glass-like functionality could be the first step -- aside from human bionic limbs -- toward the 'humanification' of technology. Watch this space in 2013.
Apple TV could revitalize slumping television market
Will Apple launch its own television set in 2013? It's possible, and very likely -- if the analysts are right -- but when, and at what price?
Apple lost out to the sub-$200 mini-tablet range by pricing its own 7-inch iPad mini at a price premium. The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant has not broken down the figures, but analysts still believe the mini-tablet has failed to take off. If Apple takes the same approach with a fully-fledged 'smart TV,' it may not revitalize the wider technology market.
The problem is that televisions are not replaced very often, and are low margin products. This is why Sony, Sharp and Panasonic, and others -- excluding Samsung which is faring the weather well -- are struggling to stay afloat and are looking at financing options. A break into the television market would be an automatic failure, but if Apple could control it -- as it would -- it would be more than a "hobby business," as Apple chief executive Tim Cook said at the company's fourth quarter earnings call, but also be less than a dire waste of time.
Still, by bringing iTunes and pay-per-view content to the television set, the devices could be sold at a modest premium with razor-thin margins -- just as Google and Amazon do with their tablets -- and still rake in the cash long-term with the television content factor.