2001: Three tech trends you're not expecting

Do you know what trends will matter in 2001? We've got three you're not expecting. Including what's new on the biometric front and the next phase of the Internet.

Want to know what trends will matter in 2001? I've got three you're not expecting.

Including what's new on the biometric front and the next phase of the Internet.

I always like a heads up from my lawyer, broker and doctor.

The world's most careful man hates surprises.

I also like to know what's coming in the tech world. You too, no doubt. Today, I'll give you a heads up on three trends that will matter next year -- even though you're not expecting them. Before I get to my short list, here are some useful predictions from other trend watchers.

First, the folks at MIT's Technology Review have spotted some out-there possibilities. Here's a sampling:

Flexible transistors
Flexible transistors made from materials that combine the speed and charge-shuttling power of inorganics with the affordability and flexibility of organics. These babies could show up in radio-frequency product ID tags and flat-panel video displays. Imagine affordable wall-sized displays or a high-quality display that pops out of your pen. Wow. Click for more.

Data mining
Data mining that moves beyond relational databases to text, where computers discover unexpected relationships from free-form documents. Or video mining that uses a combination of speech recognition, image understanding and natural-language processing to pick through vast video archives. Click for more.

Biometrics at the consumer level. With more wireless gadgets around, there's a greater need to protect personal data. One company poised to lead the charge is Visionics. Its pattern-recognition software called FaceIt verifies your identity based on a set of 14 unique facial features that are unaffected by facial hair or changes in expression.Click for more.

Next, PC Magazine's Michael Miller sees a world of revolutions.

Among them:

Internet Part II
Businesses will rethink the Net and how to take advantage. They'll expand internal network capabilities and connections with the outside world.

New apps
Greater connectivity will require new applications, which will increasingly move away from PCs and onto the servers of application service providers (ASPs).

Expect more and better wireless solutions for handhelds, notebooks and LANs. Wearable computers:
We'll move from silly high-fashion concepts to serious business applications. Pilot projects have already started. But think of a jet plane inspector with a heads-up display and voice control. Or a warehouse worker inventorying product. Or a building engineer doing quality control of a high-rise.

Tech stock rebound
I see a slow, steady upturn starting in February, especially if the Fed eases interest rates.Click for more.

Microsoft comeback
The Redmond giant could become the thought leader on the Web as it was for PCs. Microsoft will finally have most of its .Net architecture in place next spring. Based on what I've seen, it will have all the parts in place for a viable platform for the next-generation Web.

It may take 12 to 18 months, but don't be surprised to see Microsoft take the leadership role away from Sun, Oracle and the Linux crowd.

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