Creating a sci-fi future always takes longer than expected, if it happens at all.
Consider the example of the connected home, in which everyday devices like security cameras, garage doors, and refrigerators are connected to the Internet and controlled from a smartphone. Companies have pushed the idea for several years, but have gained only limited traction.
The technology industry’s ambitious road map will be on fully display this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the annual gadget industry rally in Las Vegas. Executives from electronics makers, car manufacturers, and entertainment companies will make splashy sales pitches for their latest products and, maybe, some people will eventually buy them.
Some years in tech turn out to be truly revolutionary. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone and reshaped the technology industry. Other years are more a game of catch-up, when companies focus on the difficult but important job of making entire categories of products live up to their original promise. (See: 3-D home television.)
What kind of year will 2015 be? Here’s what to expect.
Countdown to Apple Watch
Apple's debut of its smartwatch within the next few months is the biggest hope yet to popularize the Internet-connected time pieces. Manufacturers have long described the mini-computers worn on the wrist—or anywhere else on the body—as the future. But so far the public has been unconvinced. Apple's Watch, at $349, may be the last chance to redeem the technology. Apple, of course, has had plenty of success taking existing but clunky electronics—i.e. smartphones and tablets —and making them easy to use. Why not smartwatches? The stakes are high for Apple CEO Tim Cook, who until now, has been riding high on a portfolio of product lines developed by his predecessor, Steve Jobs. Smartwatches will be entirely Cook's baby, for better or for worse.