Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing The future of tech – 2014 will be pretty boring really

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I am a fan of Douglas Adam’s ‘The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ and although Marvin, the sour, pessimistic, GPP – Genuine People Personality - robot is the opposite of my persona I cannot think of any better way to express my disappointment in what came out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – ‘the global stage for innovation.’

Arthur: I think that door just sighed.

Marvin: Ghastly, isn't it? All the doors on this spaceship have been programmed to have a cheery and sunny disposition.



Sure it was huge – the equivalent of 7 of Sydney’s entire Darling Harbour Convention and Exhibition Centre – which is being ripped down as we speak to build a bigger and better one to reopen in late 2016. Some journalist may not agree - but while CES was full of goodies, there was nothing awe inspiring, jaw dropping, or achingly new.

Marvin: “Incredible... it's even worse than I thought it would be.”

My technologist friend and journalist Alex Zaharov-Reutt reminded me that the iPhone was born 7 years ago (9th January 2007 – please read his blog here) and frankly since then it has not truly been eclipsed.

“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything …” Steve Jobs.

Either Jobs was brilliant and so far ahead of his time – yes he was – or the rest of the world is just plain lazy. Not one smartphone has since beaten Apple’s iconic design and grand plan, yet it too has suffered from a dearth of new thinking in recent years – evolution – not revolution.

Marvin: The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million... they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline.

What is wrong with the world, where are the bold, mad scientists whose whacky ideas stretch the imagination?

I am not trying to channel Steve Jobs but I am sure his iPhone of today would have been more than a phone, camera, content player, GPS, and advertising server.

The phone Steve would have built would have been wearable, probably component based, certainly with innovations like fold/roll out screens and frankly, it would have added more to our lives than to be a vehicle to access Facebook – it would have become indispensable, our very raison d'être.

Zaphod Beeblebrox: Into the interior of the planet. That is where we have to go. Down into the very depths of time itself where no man has trod these five million years. We are not gonna be great. We are not gonna be amazing. We are gonna be amazingly amazing!

Marvin: Sounds awful.

Yesterday I reported on the CES “Best of” awards and none were ‘new’. One was edgy – Razer’s Project Christine – a modular PC concept; one was a clever use of wireless communications and sensors - Sen.se Mother; one was pushing existing boundaries - the Oculus Rift; but all were incremental advances in functionality.

CES is a massive success – I will not take that away from the Consumer Electronics Association that sweats tears of blood to stage this annual event.

Marvin: “I’ve seen it – its rubbish”

But I refuse to be awed by another Bluetooth speaker – except perhaps the Dalek one – which while cosmetically clever needs to do much more to assure its future.







I will not be awed by another health band until they solve a few fundamental issues like battery life – yes Garmin came closer with its Vivofit gaining 1 year from 2 replaceable coin cells - but at the expense of functions that could make a difference. Toshiba came closer again with its concept smart watch and a built in electrocardiograph and pulse function – that combined with GPS and accelerometer is a good concept – at the expense of battery life of course.

I will not get excited by reviews of Window 8.1 Bay Trail and Core tablets unless they have something spectacular to offer. Don’t even mention another Intel reference Ultrabook design – quantity - not innovation.




I may retch if I see another jargon laden Android/SnapDragon/Quadluminous/ambidextrous/sustainable/big data/social media/cloud oriented so called smartphone or tablet – unless it does something the others don’t do. Samsung won the great war of 2013 by going after the low hanging fruit.


Marvin: [depressed] I'd make a suggestion, but you wouldn't listen.

Marvin: [even more depressed] No one ever does.

What I want is to gather the best brains – Bill Gates, Larry Page, J.J Abrams, and Adams, Asimov, Jobs, H.G. Wells etc., via channelling – to name a few. After they bury the hatchet – in each other – and imbibe a few fine wines – and come up with a road map for the communicator, replicator, holographic comms, transporter, usable health monitor, and turn science fiction into science fact. Where is Dr Who’s bloody sonic screwdriver when you need it?

“Having solved all the major mathematical, physical, chemical, biological, sociological, philosophical, etymological, meteorological and psychological problems of the Universe except for his own, three times over, [Marvin] was severely stuck for something to do, and had taken up composing short dolorous ditties of no tone, or indeed tune.





Am I asking too much for the tech giants to stop lusting after the same piece of pie and to bake a new, bigger, better one. STOP GOING AFTER THE LOW HANGING FRUIT - START THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX! (Sorry for those overused clichés).

Marvin: I have a million ideas, but they all point to certain death.

To end this blog on a serious note …

I will gladly sacrifice gadgets and gizmos to solve the main impediments to better tech.

  1. Privacy will be the single biggest issue in 2014 as manufacturers (very much for want of a better word) try to monetise everything they do. Greed is not good
  2. I do not mind big data used for good. I do mind extreme data – married to social networks and used for evil. It is not fair that a shop can know more about you than you do
  3. Availability of fast, affordable, ubiquitous, world-wide broadband must happen
  4. Curing mal/MAD/Adware, virus, spam and scams on the internet – Trust needs a big make-over

I wish iTWire readers an even better 2014.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!