Tech predictions

Wondering what kind of newfangled gadgets 2014 has in store for us? I asked several technology experts to give their predictions, and the results were incredibly surprising, varied and contradictory. In fact, the only thing they all agreed on is that I should never again use the word “newfangled” when writing about technology.

Below is a compilation of the answers I received.

2014 tech predictions:


Shoe Phone. Not like the Maxwell Smart kind where all the action is in the sole of the shoe. No, this phone will mount to the top of the shoe. Extra-large screen for viewing at a distance. Voice activated. Stylish yet durable. This bold, new step forward will allow people to continue to walk around while looking down at their phones but will allow them to have their hands free to use.

The iThing. Experts almost reached a consensus on this device. Though not in agreement on what it will be or do, they felt certain that it will be revolutionary, handheld, somewhat costly and well-designed and will start with a lowercase “i.” Also, the first model quickly will be obsolete to the point of embarrassment, given how much better and cheaper the new ones will be. I want one now!

Grooming Orb. Branching out from communications, look for technology to infiltrate the beauty industry. The grooming orb, according to those who claim to know, will be akin to a motorcycle helmet that covers your entire head. Once in place, it will be capable of shaving, cutting/coloring hair, pore squeezing, exfoliating, microdermabrading, eyebrow shaping/tinting, nose-hair trimming and general tanning, depending on which settings you choose. You probably (carefully) should choose the settings before you put it on, seeing as it covers your entire head, and blindly pushing random buttons could lead to unwanted grooming outcomes.

Universal Remote. Not your typical “universal” remote, the one that controls your DVD, DVR, Dish, stereo, TV and Roku all in one handy little unit. No, this Universal Remote, apparently, will control the actual universe. Adjust the volume of those around you, or your entire town. Move backward and forward in time, at varying speeds. Pause life events at the best parts, or save them for later viewing. Skip over the boring stuff in order to get to the good bits. Channel surf between alternate realities. Rechargeable batteries included.

Wine-description generator. Stuck for some fancy words to describe that wine you’re drinking? Everybody at the table waiting for you to add your two cents about the body, bouquet and finish? Well, dump a bit of wine into this gizmo, and it spits back the necessary pretentious verbiage to make you sound like the 21st-century connoisseur that you now are. Never again call a wine “really good.” Models also available for food, music, film (not movies) and modern art.

Digital coffee cup. None of the experts knew exactly what this device would do, only that it was inevitable and that they were kind of shocked that there wasn’t one already.


Tone recognition. A much-needed breakthrough in voice-recognition technology, tone recognition will allow you to adjust tolerance settings for sarcasm, condescension, pettiness, etc. So when you’re sarcastically dictating that “It was REALLY nice having lunch with you” email, it will be reworded to sound like you actually mean it. Will also be available as a smartphone app for real-time voice correction.

Shock treatment. Computers are electronic devices and therefore are capable of delivering electric shocks. So why don’t they? Well, according to our experts, in 2014 they will. Various new applications will begin to add features that send jolts of electricity from the keyboard, mouse or touch-screen directly to the user. On purpose. Why? Negative reinforcement can be a powerful tool in cognitive training. You’re likely to concentrate much harder on your language-learning program if a wrong answer results in a bowel-loosening burst of voltage. It’s also a good path to behavioral conditioning (see below). Also, it would just be kind of fun.

Stupid prevention. This application will warn you when you’re about to do something stupid. Given the broad range of stupid things available to do at any given moment, it will require quite a bit of customization before it will work within your personal stupid-prevention criteria. Some of the polled tech experts initially thought that a “smart encouragement” program would be more of a positive approach to the issue but eventually relented that stupid prevention was much more practical and realistic. Hooray for a stupid-free future!

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays. More at


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