12. August 2008

Gernot’s Technology Watchlist

I thought for a very long time on writing a comprehensive post about upcoming companies, technologies, products and services that are still in their infancies but that have the potential to change the way we use technology in the future. Since I don’t have time to write that article now, I decided to do something like an annotated list instead. Maybe the big article on how we might use all this stuff in the future will follow later ;-) The stuff here appears in no particular order. Also, this is no investment advice, etc. Just a list of developments that I find interesting, and that has yet to reach its full potential. I will also add and delete stuff from this list in the future. So, here we go:

Intel’s Larrabee Chip

Graphics cards are extremely parallel beasts full of many very specialized cores for very specialized tasks. Intel’s approach is just as parallel, but not as specialized: Their Larrabee Graphics chip uses x86 cores. Just right for that other trend that will come from the hardware manufacturers: Using a lot of low-powered cores instead of one core with high clockspeed will allow more efficient devices with longer battery life. This can be used for very efficient number crunching outside of the graphics area. The only piece missing? An OS that supports fine grained parallellism in software and provides the right developer tools for making them. Take a Look at Apple’s Grand Central and OpenCL . And here is a Siggraph Paper about LarraBee

Imagination Technologies

This company designs mobile 3D chipsets that power a lot of mobile devices, among them the iPhone. They belong to the founding members of OpenCL, too. If mobile devices get more powerful and useful in the future, these are the guys behind it. This is their website.


Until recently, amazingly unknown even to some people who are into mapping, this wil be the next “user generated” service that will really take off. Following the footsteps of Wikipedia, OpenStreetmap provides data of the geography of our planet, the way the very restrictive (and very expensive) companies Navteq and Teleatlas do. OpenStreetMap does it on a free (as in freedom) model, submitted by the users for the users. In the last month we’ve seen a huge explosion of content and an incredible increase in quality. Sure, it has not yet reached “critical mass” in all areas, but looking at their current progress, they will soon. The first commercial uses start to occur, too: Yahoo’s Flickr uses it to map Beijing. A surprisingly big company called Cloudmade will provide professional maps and services based on the OSM map. And once people start to use that data, a lot more people will contribute to the map. Once it’s in widespread use, it will be hard to beat it in terms of up-to-dateness and completeness. Sure it’s a long way to go, but they are currently going fast.

Perceptive Pixel

This is probably nothing new to most people reading this. Jeff Han is the pioneer in multitouch devices and applications, long before the iPhone used this technology. But because direct manipulation is the second most important game-changing idea in the industry right now (most important one is mobility), this is a company worth watching. They might have some very interesting patents up their sleeves… Perceptive Pixel Website

BTW, there is a lot of stuff not on the list and that is for a reason, too: Social Networks. Virtual Worlds. Put-Your-Life-In-The-Cloud services. That’s because I don’t think they will be that more important to the mainstream than they are now. Also not on the list are things that will emerge but have no technology/company/service with a visible killer concept behind them yet: The “Take your digital data and identity with you” device. The “Aggregate the stuff that is important and help the user with information overflow” software that adapts to the users situation. And a lot more. If you know something that fits on this list or have anything else to say on my highly subjective selection, please feel free to comment :-)

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