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"Next Big Thing."

What do you guys think will be the "next big thing"?

A few years back it was the Internet, what will be next in terms of technology, software, anything?

Make your prediction :-)

Prakash S
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Porn.  Always has been, always will be.

George Leroy Tirebiter
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Great Depression II

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The Butlerian Jihad will eliminate computers completely.

Dune fan
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Video parsing.  Imagine how much time could be saved if traffic signals could intelligently use multiple cameras.  The first person that can write

SignalState Calc(bitmap camera1, bitmap camera2, bitmap camera3, camera4) {}

will add $300 billion to the economy.

Bill Carlson
Wednesday, November 13, 2002


crusty admin
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Suspenders.  Really gaudy suspenders.  Suspenders as wide as a strip of duct tape, suspenders that light up.  By this time next year, every well-dressed man will look like Larry King after a three-day drunk.

I'm not looking forward to this.

Hardware Guy
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

open source knowledge management systems via webservices

oh its google?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

1. Quantum computing.

2. Biological computing.

3. Optical computing.

4. Mixtures of the above.

Adrian Gilby
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

"Imagine how much time could be saved if traffic signals could intelligently use multiple cameras."

Care to elaborate?  Save time normally done doing what?


Robert Anderson
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The Matrix

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Oh, you wanted a serious answer? Noboby has said Nanotech yet. Maybe that?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

On the desktop, I reckon Speech Recognition is the next big thing.

The idea of the networked home has been pushed for some time.  I think it fails because people don't want to have to use their computers to control things.

Once a user friendly speech driver system is marketable, and people can treat their home computer like HAL or Zen then it won't be long before everybody will be saying 'Computer, I wan't to watch television.  Make it so.'

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Of course, then it won't be the desktop.  It'll be called something else.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

"Save time normally done doing what?"

Well, looking at empty road in front of you, mostly.

Traffic light sequences are at best set up for the most pessimal case for that time of day - if the traffic flow changes for any reason, people spend a lot of time stationary, burning fuel, looking at empty road and a red light, while a massive queue forms behind them, blocking side roads, queuing round roundabouts...

In addition the failure to sequence junctions properly means the average car is accelerating most of the time: which burns more fuel and means the traffic is moving slower.

Lights need to be smarter and connected - so one batch of lights can say "I've just sent a massive block of traffic down the A452 because it was making a queue backing up to other junctions" and then later lights can decide to make themselves green in time to allow those cars to just drive through without slowing if that's doable.

Pedestrian lights could know there was no bulk traffic on the way, and so could ignore their wait time and turn green-man as soon as the button's pressed. Likewise, the traffic junction further up the road knows they're red so it could prioritise traffic going another way until that road's clear again.

Lights that drift in and out of sequence are a pain - in Coventry there's two pairs on the A45 that drift in and out of sequence, with a gap between them. When they're fully out of sequence, they act as an airlock and let only the cars that can sit in that gap through over a full cycle (which is not short) -- the resultant queues can be miles long.

Tweaking them by hand, by having people sit at the side of road and count cars once a year isn't responsive enough: you need the lights to understand the traffic flow and tweak themselves, to adjust to this morning's conditions.

All this actually really needs is the comms links (which could be radio) and some sensors in the road. Heck, it's even got a decent failure mode: go back to timed cycles if you don't hear from other stations.

And the fire service and ambulances can simply follow green lights all the way to where they need to be.

Think of all that fuel saved in having the most possible cars doing constant speeds. Think of the fact that people won't be so tempted to run lights, because if the lights are red it means someone actually will be using that bit of road in a minute. And in fact, even if you have to stop, the reward is that the next few lights will be green to make up for it...

Katie Lucas
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I'd say tablet PC's will be the next big thing. They have the potential to change the way that people interact with computers and data. The concept is as old as the computer itself and technology has finally caught up to it.

I'm browsing from my bed with one right now. There will be an acclimation period for any one using them, but once you get into it, it is very natural and comfortable.


Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The traffic lights thing is spot on, but I want it to have the telepathic module on it.  So that when I say to Siobhan, my daughter, to concentrate on changing the lights, it works.

Or at least, works more often.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Some trams here have Little Doohickeys (TM) which change the traffic lights at junctions they are approaching. Its lovely to sit and watch those car drivers glare at you in frustration as you sail by :-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Taken from:

Singapore, where more transportation is regulated than in any other country, also has intelligent roads. Since 1988, the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been using a centralized computer system to monitor and control traffic on key roads in the island state. Called the Green Link Determining method, or GLIDE, the system helps prevent traffic jams that, in addition to aggravation, cause yearly losses of some $45 million on the Pan Island and Central Expressways. GLIDE currently controls over 60% of Singapore's traffic network and is expected to cover it fully by the end of this year.

Adrian Gilby
Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Visit The Netherlands. Many crossings with traffic lights have induction loops in the road that can detect traffic and change the operating parameters of traffic light. Their signals also get combined to create "green waves", assuming you stick to the speed limit.

Of course they are not everywhere, and they don't always work as planned :-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Regarding the camera-controlled signal lights: A few years back, a former co-worker went to work at a local company that was producing such a system. Multiple cameras networked with real-time imaging software, all running under Java. Saves the huge expense and time of installing dozens of magnetic roadway sensors for a conventional system. The system could tell when vehicles were approaching the signals, how fast they were moving, all sorts of neat stuff, and set the lights accordingly.

Problem was, it tends to snow a lot up here in the north country. Cameras don't see well through snow. Or fog. Or heavy rain. Or seeing cars without lights on at dusk or dawn. All of which renders the system useless, and it would have to fall back to fixed timing.

Said company failed after a few years.

Mark Williams
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

In general terms, the increasing power of processors and the increasing ubiquity of devices featuring them and interconnection of those devices should lead to ever more useful devices. I'm thinking in particular of personal devices like phones and PDAs and devices at home like VCRs rather than computers that we sit down in front of. Speech recognition should be fairly commonplace.

In specific terms, if nanotechnology is perfected then it has the potential to be one of the biggest things. Ever. I hope I see it in my lifetime. I'm particularly looking forward to houses that provide me with food and clean themselves!

John Topley
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Lights on roadworks in the UK have used doppler radar type devices for well over a decade.

Their use is being extended to other traffic lights (instead of induction loops which have been around rather longer but have issues - like being bad at picking up bikes - and they, in turn. replaced pneumatic systems).

For the full-on example there's a set of pedestrian operated lights half a mile from where I'm sitting that has detectors point at the road, the area where people wait to cross and the crossing itself...

The technology already exists - its getting it applied that is the problem.


James Murphy
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

isn't nanotechnology just applied physical chemistry? what used to be called "chemical engineering?" or am i missing something?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

High-accuracy mobile phone location technology - for emergency calls, for navigation, for commerce, for social interaction, for games, etc.

Darren Collins
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

America's invasion of Iraq - and subsequent terrorist revenge attacks.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

One word my boy, 'plastics'.
No, maybe wireless.
No, how about the new 64 bit processors.
They do have the super fast serial connections to replace PCI and the like.
OK, wait, umm, ultrawideband. Actually, this could be amazing if the FCC allows it to procede.

If someone would invent a better eco friendly battery, they would be a gazzionare.

Doug Withau
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Goa'ould's invasion... The end of human civilization......

Don't blame me for my pessimism... I was watching Stargate on TV :-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

When this question came up on Philip Greenspun's board, this is what he wrote:


In the world of gizmos, I think the biggest changes will come from expressions of two existing technologies: (1) global positioning system (GPS), and (2) wireless Internet connectivity. Our gizmos will know where they are. Our gizmos will be able to use that location information to query the Internet. Imagine being able to point your mobile phone at a building and ask "When was that built and who designed it?" Or point your mobile phone and ask "Show me a view of that building's roof" and the phone is smart enough to find a nearby Webcam, then bring the image back to your phone's screen. My friend Henry Minsky notes that this will be the death of privacy unless you're at home inside your personal Faraday cage. But such is progress.

I'm really not qualified to talk about the world of biology and medicine, though obviously this is the most important area of change.

The world of business will be exploded with the wiring of the planet. Once you can get 6 Mbits point to point it becomes really easy to collaborate with someone at a distance. This puts pressure on companies to figure out how to harness the creativity and productivity of people on farflung continents. I've always hated video conferencing where other people appear in a little box (a TV). But when the other people are projected lifesize on a wall it seems very natural. This requires a high-speed connection or maybe super fancy yet-to-be-developed compression technology. But it will be available and then you'll be just as happy to have your coworker 2000 miles away as right next to you.

I think that there will be a lot of innovation in the travel industry. People have more money and less leisure time so they'll want to make the most of it.

Personal finance will become more sophisticated with the kinds of tools currently available only to big money managers trickling down to the average person's desktop. For example every mutual fund knows its portfolio risk (e.g., that owning both GM and Ford is a bad idea because it has the same reward potential as GM and Merck but much higher risk because GM and Ford are both vulnerable to a turndown in autos). But consumers haven't had access to portfolio risk data.

Those are my predictions!


J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Lebron James

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Nanotechnology: see

John Topley
Thursday, November 14, 2002

a brain in the machine

Thursday, November 14, 2002

next big thing ... ...

overweight Americans

Seriously though. We have come full circle. Food in the west is now so cheap that pretty soon, instead of working to get food, we will be working to afford the expenses of dealing with these excesses.

Not sure what the current %age is, but the figures for American's who are clinically obese, and the projections for the future, do not look good.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Next BIG thing, pretty soon: fuel-cells. Like LCD's, they will go from an interesting curiosity with niche applications to just about replacing batteries (and some IC applications - how about a fuel-cell powered chainsaw?)

There is some other interesting, but not mould-breaking stuff about: flexible roll-up display screens; high efficiency white LEDs replacing incandescent filament lamps for general lighting; MEMS & nanotechnology has the possibility of coming up with something pretty impressive, but probably not very high profile.

And still about 10-20 years off, but a real biggie: quantum computing/communications/crypotgraphy.

My own pet idea is to use a PAN (like Bluetooth) to ensure that every driver on the road can talk to, and be heard by, the occupants of the immediately surrounding vehicles. And you _can't_ turn it off ;-)

Max Hadley
Thursday, November 14, 2002

They already have those, they're called megaphones.

Matthew Lock
Thursday, November 14, 2002

the singularity

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Round abouts

Saturday, May 15, 2004

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