Ten technologies to track in 2003

So I'm a little late with my fearless predictions for 2003. So sue me! I can only plead that technological advances are so widespread that the collection of data and rumination thereon takes longer with each passing year.

Feb 1st, 2003

So I'm a little late with my fearless predictions for 2003. So sue me! I can only plead that technological advances are so widespread that the collection of data and rumination thereon takes longer with each passing year. So here we go with technologies to watch in 2003. They are in no particular order since it would be even more foolish to rank these developments and downright dangerous to risk omitting any of the hard-working researchers, such as "the usual suspects." As per usual, the selections are my own and do not reflect the views of Laser Focus World. Brickbats and bouquets please to the e-mail address at the end of this column. No cash but PayPal would be nice.

·Nano, nano: Nanotechnology is everywhere, but keep an eye on researchers at IBM and Intel, in particular. IBM is attacking quantum computing (http://www.research.ibm.com/resources/news/20011219_quantum.shtml) and Intel is peering into carbon nanotubes (http://news.com.com/.2100-1001-956443.html). "Hey, there's quanta in this nanotube!"

·Is that a power supply in your pocket? Cornell University researchers have built a power supply for remote sensors or implantable medical devices that draws energy from a radioactive isotope. And you'll glow in the dark. (http://www..news..cornell.edu/releases/Oct02/cantilever.ws.html).

·Can't you keep it down? Researchers at Northwestern University have demonstrated a quantum cryptography method that uses the properties of "noisy" light to encrypt information that can only be cracked by violating the physical laws of nature. "Oh?" (http://www.northwestern.edu/.univ-relations/media_relations/releases/11_2002/.kumar.html).

·Now you see it, now you don't: Holographic storage has been on the horizon for a decade or more but the guys at IBM's Almaden Research Center have success within their laser sights. (http://www..almaden..ibm.com/st/projects/holography/).

·Make mine a tall mocha latte with email: Forget Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11a, but expect HP and 802.11g to bring 50-Mbyte/s wireless Internet connections to your local Starbucks or Borders before you can type, "double espresso." Just say, "Grazie!" (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/21aug02b.htm).

·Now where did I put that RFID? Yes, I know that radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology has been around for a while but it's about to take off big-time (just ask TI, if you dare). (http://www.ti..com/.tiris/docs/news/news_releases/2002/rel11-.26-02.shtml).

·Move over, Michelangelo: Scientists at the University of Arizona have come up with organic solar cells that "self-organize" so they can be applied like paint. Hmmmn, how about my car? (http://uanews.opi.arizona.edu/cgi-bin/WebObjects/UANews.woa/wa/SRStoryDetails? ArticleID=4088).

·That's a wrap: Bell Labs is joining forces with DuPont to literally "print" display circuits on thin sheets of plastic that are so flexible they can be rolled up. Today's display is tomorrow's fish-wrapper. (http://www.bell-labs.com/news/2002/.november/display.html).

·A CAN in every car: Detroit is moving at its usual snail's pace but progress is being made towards car area networks (CANs). But there's too much alphabet soup and not enough horse-power. (http://.www.eetimes.com/story/OEG20011011S0105).

·Beam up the robots, Scottie: UCLA is developing the software for the Multimedia Intelligent Network of Unattended Mobile Agents (Minuteman) or "robots in space." Let's hope it's more reliable than Windows. (http://newsroom.ucla.edu/.page.asp?menu=fullsearchresults&id=3166).

So there you have it for 2003 and probably some distance beyond given the reduced spending on R&D these days. But, as the man said, "Beware false prophets," or was it "Behold fake profits?"

Jeffrey Bairstow
Online Director
jbairstow@pennwell.com

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