The past year has witnessed some revolutionary technological innovations. Some of the biggest and most inspiring stories revolved around technology - from citizen recorded videos that spurred the flames of the Arab Spring to disaster-hit Japan trying to recover from the aftermath of earthquakes and a Tsunami.
Here are 5 technology trends primed to change the face of the world...
1. Mobile Technology - It Will Either Save or Break us
Whether it comes to sharing private messages, capturing cherished moments with friends, family members and colleagues via photographs or videos, the convenience of these pocket gadgets is often taken for granted.
Moreover, for millions of people across developing nations, the mobile phone is more than a convenient gadget. These devices are lifelines that act as conduits to information on health and wellness for underprivileged people in Uganda and South Africa. Messages regarding HIV/AIDS counseling, besides guidance on testing and the prevention of such diseases are now available at their fingertips.
Elsewhere, free government-provided phones have been critical to healthcare workers monitoring pregnant women in Rwanda. Dozens of such social service programs are initiating new projects to support disease and disaster relief work for people in rural areas, thereby addressing communication problems.
According to the latest survey reports, mobile phones reach a massive 64 percent of the population spread across developing countries. Besides, there is evidence suggesting patients receiving real-time updates on the handsets are most likely to adhere to the treatment and their doctor's advice.
Unfortunately, the widespread use of mobile phones does have its problems.
There have been a number of instances where terrorists have used the technology to launch or sustain their attacks; while confidential information can potentially be stolen should a mobile phone fall into the wrong hands.
At the end of the day, however, mobile technology has successfully demonstrated that it can blur the lines between device categories. Smartphones could, conceivably, become popular substitutes for tablets and e-readers, given growing display sizes and increasingly powerful processing capabilities.
2. Generation Next: Social Networking at Its Pinnacle Will Continue to Shrink the World
2011 may well be remembered as fondly for technological advancements as well as a chain of disastrous events. The whole world was shaken by news of an earthquake off the Japanese coast and links to videos of the ensuing tsunami. That news, courtesy Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, spread like wildfire, within hours of the disaster striking... as did ways to aid relief efforts.
Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street movement used social media as an effective weapon, inspiring activists across America to organize local protests.
Companies around the world are expected to replace existing blogs and forums with social streams in 2012. The present restrictions on the use of social media during work hours may become a thing of the past, should the leaders of these organizations encourage the use of Instant Messengers and virtual conference rooms.
3. Video Technology: Don't be Deceived
The memory of citizen-recorded videos turning locally-centred protests into a region-wide campaign against tyranny and oppression is a recent one. The protests escalated as a result of police action in Tunisia, protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square and ended with the death of former Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi. What began as (and is still continuing) an amateur video from an Arab nation spread through social media, mobile texts and YouTube videos.
The Al-Jazeera network beamed the footage to millions of television sets across the Arab world. Despite the government shutting down Internet access, the message found a way through.
This spirit of sharing and camaraderie will continue to spread, across television, online portals and social media Web sites. While there are, as with anything else in the world, pros and cons to this point, the bottom-line is it could force politicians to be just and inspire change.
4. Robot Technology: Rise of the Machines
The impact of machines on daily routines is perhaps understated. They have made lives easier, safer and more productive. Machines have taken over a number of odd-jobs and critical positions, in both industries and corporate offices. Apple's latest innovation - Siri, a voice-assisted artificial intelligence - is a typical example of that change.
Meanwhile, robots have come a long way in accomplishing everyday tasks like mopping and vacuum cleaning floors and mowing lawns. In addition, also, to specializing in advanced operations like prostrate surgery, exploring disaster sites for survivors and defusing bombs, they also pilot unmanned vehicles in space.
5. Hybrid Cloud Computing: Share Everything for a Price
Industry experts around the world predicted a hybrid cloud technology - a mix of private and public clouds - could be a strategic game changer for enterprises in 2012.
Security-conscious organizations around the world have adopted the private cloud technology, to protect the company's confidential data, within the confines of local servers. Meanwhile, those individuals who embrace the idea of public clouds could find more flexibility, in terms of storage resources, access to new apps and the ability to share information globally.
A hybrid cloud will, in essence, integrate the security of private clouds and the flexibility of public clouds, allowing the benefits of both to come through.