Accurate Speech Recognition
Though the vendor of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech-recognition program claimed an accuracy of 99 percent, in our recent tests the application managed an accuracy of only about 96 percent–not bad, but not good enough. We don’t need perfection, but we are looking forward to a speech-recognition system that is fast and accurate enough to replace a keyboard for writing.
Memory That Doesn’t Forget
Your existing PC memory gets amnesia when the system power goes off, but NRAM (nanotube nonvolatile RAM) remembers everything, and is as fast as modern memory. With NRAM, your PC could turn on and off immediately, dispensing with all of its tedious booting up and shutting down.
Nanotube Heat Sinks
Modern PC components produce a lot of heat, but carbon nanotube heat sinks will conduct that heat away better than existing metal ones do. See “The Future of Nanotech” for more details on how nanotechnology will revolutionize computing.
Dual-core processors have given PCs a big speed boost, but the advances won’t stop there. Quad-core systems from Intel will arrive before the end of the year, and AMD’s quad-core chips will hit the market in mid-2007.
TVs Out of Thin Air
The Helio display can create a TV out of nowhere, projecting an image onto a curtain of compressed air. Right now it is prohibitively expensive (around $20,000), but the price will fall as the technology matures.
One-Box Surround Sound That Works
If products such as Yamaha’s promising $1700 YSP-1100 Digital Sound Projector continue to improve (and become affordable), complex surround-sound wiring could become a thing of the past. The YSP-1000 uses 40 beam drivers to focus surround precisely, creating a convincing surround effect out of just one box.
2015’s New Mainstream Camera: 20 Megapixels
The price of digital cameras will continue to slide, while the resolution will continue to increase. Analyst Ron Glaz of IDC thinks that shoppers will be able to buy a 10-megapixel camera for less than $300 by the end of 2007, and a 20-megapixel camera for less than $300 by 2015.
A Shift From 2D Photos to 3D Environments
The increased processing power of computers allows for new ways to handle images. The Photosynth project from Microsoft, for instance, takes a group of 2D photographs and transforms them into a 3D environment that provides a whole new way to browse pictures.
Console Wars 2012
Despite Sony’s and Microsoft’s protests that this year’s game consoles will last longer than previous ones, game consoles have five-year life spans. So, in the December 2012 issue of PC World, we’ll be reviewing the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 game consoles, which will have photorealistic 3D games and high-def movies streamed over the Internet.
The advent of multicore processors gives game programmers a lot more processing power to create smarter adversaries in games: For example, one core can be dealing with running the game, while the other is running an artificial intelligence (AI) routine that creates hordes of smart enemies. And your opponents won’t just sit and wait for you, either–they’ll hunt you down.
Robots, Part 1: Death to Allowances
Teenagers’ options for earning money at home will shrink greatly as single-duty robots take over household chores. A 2004 United Nations report on World Robotics predicts that prices for grass-cutting, pool-cleaning, and window-washing robots will become affordable by 2007, and some 4 million robots will be in use by the end of that year.
Robots, Part 2: Hope It’s Not the Terminator
While the world now has a robot that can run 4 miles per hour–Honda’s ASIMO–Stephen Keeney, the ASIMO project leader, hopes that by 2017 folks will see the first application of a truly humanoid robot.