Aneesh Chopra, Steve Jurvetson, Paul Saffo Debate Top Tech Trends, from Rosie the Robot to Augmented Reality

5/26/11Follow @wroush

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3. Made For Me

The trend: 3-D printing and networked microrobotics will make one-off manufacturing of custom products far more affordable, as is already occurring in fields like jewelry and dentistry.

The panel reaction: Rapid prototyping equipment is powerful but still too expensive for mass adoption. On the other hand, if the U.S. is to regain manufacturing strength, it will likely occur in high-tech sectors like mass customization.

Audience rating: 4.6

4. Pay Me Now

The trend: As market researchers and big consumer products companies grow smarter and more aggressive about behavioral targeting, they’ll find ways to lock consumers into exclusive, paid agreements to share their personal information, product reviews, and the like.

The panel reaction: Unlikely. Internet giants like Google and Amazon have already figured out how to extract extensive and valuable data on consumer behavior without paying a cent to consumers.

Audience rating: 6.9

5. Rosie, At Last

The trend: If we broaden our definition of “robot,” we’ll notice them entering our homes and other environments in many new forms—from autonomous vacuum cleaners to self-loading dishwashers and self-driving cars.

The panel reaction: At the moment, robots are still more valuable in industrial contexts than the home, but in the longer term, robotics will be at the heart of the next big mind-blowing consumer technology revolution, on the same scale as the Web.

Audience rating: 6.0

6. Social, Really

The trend: The novelty of Facebook—a rowdy mix of friends and strangers—will finally wear off, and we’ll see the rise of true online social networks that reflect real, respectful relationships between people.

The panel reaction: Unanimous agreement, with the caveat from Ajay Royan—whose Clarium partner Peter Thiel was one of the earliest investors in Facebook—that Facebook itself, with its focus on real names and identities, is quickly figuring out how to build more trust into social interactions online.

Audience rating: 8.0

7. In-your-face Augmented Reality

The trend: Interfaces such as mobile phones and wearable displays will enhance our view of the world with an overlay of digital information, creating “an enchanted world filled with hyper-accurate artificial people and objects.”

The panel reaction: Virtual-reality glasses are still a ways off, but augmented reality apps such as StarWalk on the iPad are already providing consumers with inexpensive “edutainment,” and the technology will likely advance rapidly thanks to commercial and military interest.

Audience rating: 5.8

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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