Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

For once we're pretty confident of predicting the next big thing in computing. It's the memristor - a microscopic component that can 'remember' electrical states even when turned off. It's expected to be far cheaper and faster than flash storage.

A theoretical concept since 1971, it has now been built in labs and is already starting to revolutionise everything we know about computing, potentially making flash memory, RAM and even hard drives obsolete within a decade.

The memristor is just one of the incredible technological advances set to turn the world of computing upside down. Other innovations in the works are more down to earth, but they also carry great significance.

From the technologies that finally make paperless offices a reality to those that can throw electricity across a room without wires, these advances should make your humble PC a very different beast come the turn of the decade.

Over the following pages, we outline the basics of 13 embryonic technologies, with predictions of what may come of them. Some are breathing down our necks; some are still just out of reach. All have to be reckoned with.

NEXT PAGE: A groundbreaking new circuit

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

A groundbreaking new circuit

Since the dawn of electronics, we've had only three types of circuit components – resistors, inductors and capacitors.

Back in 1971, however, Berkeley researcher Leon Chua theorised the possibility of a fourth type, one that would be able to measure the flow of electric current: the memristor. An entire 37 years later, HP has built one.

What is it?

As its descriptive name implies, the memristor can 'remember' how much current has passed through it. By alternating the amount of current that passes through it, a memristor can also become a one-element circuit component with unique properties.

Most notably, it can save its electronic state even when the current is turned off, making it a great candidate to replace flash memory.

Memristors will theoretically be cheaper and much faster than flash memory. They will allow far greater memory densities. They could also replace RAM chips as we know them, so that, after you turn off your computer, it will remember exactly what it was doing when you turn it back on and return to work instantly.

This cost reduction and consolidation of components may lead to affordable, solid-state computers that fit in your pocket and run many times faster than today's PCs.

One day the memristor could spawn a whole new type of computer, thanks to its ability to remember a range of electrical states rather than the simplistic 'on' and 'off' states that today's digital processors recognise.

By working with a dynamic range of data states in an analogue mode, memristor-based computers could be capable of far more complex tasks than just shuttling ones and zeroes around.

When is it coming?

Researchers say no real barrier prevents the immediate implementation of the memristor in circuitry – it's up to manufacturers to push products through to commercial reality.

Memristors made to replace flash memory (at a lower cost and lower power consumption) will probably appear first; HP's goal is to offer them by 2012.

Beyond that, memristors are likely to replace both DRAM and hard disks by 2015, give or take a year or so. Memristor-based analogue computers, however, may take at least 20 years to materialise.

NEXT PAGE: 32-core computing

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

32-core computing

If your CPU has only a single core, it's officially a dinosaur. Quad-core computing is now commonplace. But we're really just at the beginning of the core wars. Leadership in the CPU market will soon be decided by which company offers the most cores, rather than by the fastest clock speed.

What is it?

With the gigahertz race largely abandoned, both AMD and Intel are trying to pack more cores on to a die in order to continue to improve processing power and assist with multitasking operations.

Miniaturising chips further will be critical to fitting these cores and other components into a limited space. Intel will roll out 32-nanometre (nm) processors in 2009.

When is it coming?

Now. Intel has been very good about sticking to its road map. A six-core CPU based on the Itanium design launched in November, when Intel shifted focus to a new architecture called Nehalem, marketed as Core i7. Core i7 features up to eight cores, with eight-core PCs available in 2009 or 2010.

An eight-core AMD project (Montreal) is reportedly expected in 2009.

After that, the timeline gets fuzzy. Intel reportedly cancelled a 32-core project called Keifer, scheduled for 2010, possibly because of its complexity. To use that many cores you need a new way of dealing with memory. Apparently, you can't have 32 brains pulling out of one central pool of RAM.

Even so, we expect cores to proliferate when the kinks are ironed out: 16 cores by 2011 or 2012 is plausible (when transistors are predicted to drop again in size to 22nm), with 32 cores by 2013 or 2014 easily within reach.

Intel says "hundreds" of cores may come even further down the line.

NEXT PAGE: 64bit computing with more RAM

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

64bit computing with more RAM

In 1986, Intel introduced its first 32bit CPU. It wasn't until 1993 that the first fully 32bit Windows operating system (OS), NT 3.1, followed, officially ending the 16bit era.

Now 64bit processors have become the norm in computers, allthough Microsoft still won't commit to an all-64bit Windows. But it can't live in the 32bit world forever.

What is it?

64bit versions of Windows have been around since Windows XP, and 64bit CPUs have been with us even longer. In fact, virtually every computer sold today has a 64bit processor under the hood.

At some point Microsoft will have to jettison 32bit altogether if it wants to encourage consumers and third-party hardware and software developers to upgrade.

Microsoft isn't likely to make that move with Windows 7. The next Windows OS is already being demoed in 32bit and 64bit versions. But limitations in 32bit's addressing structure will eventually force everyone's hand; it's already a problem for 32bit Vista users, who have found that the OS won't access more than about 3GB of RAM because it simply doesn't have the bits to access additional memory.

When is it coming?

Expect to see the shift towards 64bit accelerate with Windows 7; Microsoft will probably switch over to 64bit exclusively with Windows 8. We don't expect Windows 8 until at least 2013. Meanwhile, Mac OS X Leopard is already 64bit, and some hardware manufacturers are currently trying to switch customers to 64bit versions of Windows – Samsung says it will push its entire PC line to 64bit in early 2009.

The next big change after that will be the one to 128bit computing around 2025.

NEXT PAGE: Windows 7

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Windows 7 – inevitably

Whether you love Vista or hate it, the current Windows OS will soon go to that great digital graveyard in the sky. After the tepid reception Vista received, Microsoft is putting a rush on that O's follow-up, known currently as Windows 7.

What is it?

Windows 7 seems to be the OS that Microsoft wanted to release as Vista, but lacked the time or resources to complete. Besides continuing refinements to the OS's security system, look and feel, Windows 7 may finally bring to fruition the long-rumoured database-like WinFS file system.
 
Performance and compatibility improvements over Vista are also expected, but the main thrust of Windows 7 is likely to be enhanced online integration and more cloud-computing features. Expect Microsoft to tie its growing Windows Live services into the OS more strongly than ever.

Before his retirement as Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates suggested that a ‘pervasive desktop' would be a focus of Windows 7, giving users a way to take all their data, settings and the like from one PC to another.

When is it coming?

Microsoft has a target date of January 2010 for the release of Windows 7.

The OS got its first official viewing in October, with a handful of developers getting their hands on the initial test code.

NEXT PAGE: SuperSpeed USB

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

SuperSpeed USB

The USB connector has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of computing, with more than two billion USB-connected devices sold to date.

But in an age of terabyte hard drives, the once-cool throughput of 480 megabits per second (Mbps) that a USB 2.0 device can realistically provide simply doesn't cut it any longer.

What is it?

USB 3.0 (or SuperSpeed USB) promises to increase performance by a factor of 10, pushing the theoretical maximum throughput of the connector all the way up to 4.8 gigabits per second (Gbps) – the equivalent of a CD-R disc every second.

USB 3.0 devices will use a slightly different connector, but USB 3.0 ports will work with existing USB plugs and vice versa. USB 3.0 should also greatly enhance the power efficiency of USB devices, while increasing the juice available to them.

When is it coming?

The USB 3.0 spec is nearly finished, with consumer gear expected to start arriving in 2010. Meanwhile, a host of competing high-speed plugs including DisplayPort, eSATA and HDMI will soon become commonplace on PCs, driven largely by the increasing use of HD video. FireWire, too, is looking at an imminent upgrade of up to 3.2Gbps performance.

NEXT PAGE: Goodbye graphics cards

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Goodbye graphics cards

When AMD purchased graphics-card maker ATI, it was a fairly obvious step for the pair to start working on a hybrid of the CPU and graphics processing unit (GPU).

What is it?

While GPUs get tons of attention, discrete graphics boards are a comparative rarity among PC owners – 75 percent of laptop users stick with integrated graphics, according to Mercury Research. Reasons include the cost of buying a separate card, the hassle of installation and its drain on the battery. Putting graphics functions on to the CPU eliminates these issues.

Chip makers expect the performance of such on-die GPUs to fall somewhere between that of today's integrated graphics and standalone graphics cards. Eventually, their performance could catch up and make separate graphics cards obsolete.

When is it coming?

Intel's Nehalem chip includes graphics processing, but it isn't part of the actual CPU die. AMD's Swift, the first product in its Fusion line, reportedly takes the same design approach, and is currently on track for 2009.

Putting the GPU directly on the same die as the CPU presents challenges – heat being a major one – but that doesn't mean those issues won't be worked out. Intel's Nehalem follow-ups, Auburndale and Havendale, both slated for late 2009, may be the first chips to put a GPU and a CPU on a single die. Intel hasn't confirmed this, though.

NEXT PAGE: Recharge without wires

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Recharge without wires

Wireless power transmission has been a dream since the days when Nikola Tesla imagined a world studded with enormous Tesla coils. But, aside from advances in recharging electric toothbrushes, wireless power has so far failed to make significant inroads into consumer-level gear.

What is it?

Last summer, Intel researchers demonstrated a method for throwing electricity a distance of a few feet without wires and without any danger to bystanders.

Intel calls the technology “a wireless resonant energy link”. It works by sending a specific, 10MHz signal through a coil of wire; a similar, nearby coil of wire resonates in tune with the frequency, causing electrons to flow through that coil too. Although the design is primitive, it can light up a 60W bulb with 70 percent efficiency.

When is it coming?

Numerous obstacles remain, the first of which is that the Intel project uses alternating current. To charge gadgets, we'd have to see a direct-current version, and the size of the apparatus would have to be considerably smaller. Numerous regulatory hurdles would probably have to be cleared in commercialising such a system, and it would also have to be thoroughly vetted for safety concerns.

Assuming those all go well, such receiving circuitry could be integrated into the back of your laptop screen in roughly the next six to eight years.

It would then be a simple matter for your local airport or even coffee shop to embed the companion power transmitters directly into the walls, so
you can get a quick charge on the go.

NEXT PAGE: Gesture recognition

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Gesture recognition

Mouses are all well and good for navigating a PC desktop, but they're not what we want to use when we're sitting on the sofa watching a DVD on a laptop, or when we're working across the room from an MP3-playing PC. It isn't convenient to find the mouse and click on what we want.

Attempts to replace the venerable mouse, whether with voice recognition or brainwave scanners, have invariably failed. But an alternative is emerging.

What is it?

Compared with the intricacies of voice recognition, gesture recognition is a fairly simple idea that's beginning to make its way into consumer electronics.

The idea is to use a camera (such as a laptop webcam) to watch the user and react to their hand signals. Holding your palm out flat would indicate ‘stop' when playing a movie or a song, for example.

Waving a fist around in the air could double as a pointing system: you would move your fist to the right to move the pointer right, and so on.

When is it coming?

Gesture-recognition systems are creeping on to the market now. Toshiba, a pioneer in this market, has an early version of the technology: the Qosmio G55 laptop, which can recognise gestures to control multimedia playback.

Toshiba is also experimenting with a TV version of the technology, which would watch for hand signals via a small camera that sits on top of the set. Based on our tests, however, the accuracy of these systems still needs a lot of work.

Gesture recognition is a neat way to pause the DVD on your laptop, but it probably remains a way off from being sophisticated enough for broad adoption. Expect to see the technology make some great strides over the next few years, with inroads into mainstream markets by 2012.

NEXT PAGE: Curtains for DRM

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Curtains for DRM

Petrified of piracy, Hollywood has long relied on technical means to keep copies of its output from making the rounds on peer-to-peer networks. It hasn't worked: tools to bypass digital rights management (DRM) on just about any kind of media are readily available, and feature films often hit BitTorrent before they appear in cinemas.

Unfortunately for law-abiding citizens, DRM is less a deterrent to piracy than a nuisance that gets in the way of enjoying legally obtained content on more than one device.

What is it?

It's not what it is, it's what it isn't. Axing DRM means no more schemes to prevent you from moving music or video from one form of media to another.

Imagine a day when you'll be able to take a DVD, pop it in a PC and end up with a compressed video file that will play on any device you wish.

Better yet, you won't need that DVD at all: you'll be able to pay a few pounds for an unprotected, downloadable version of the movie that you can re-download later.

When is it coming?

Technologically speaking, nothing is stopping companies from scrapping DRM tomorrow. But legally and politically, resistance persists. Music has largely made the transition already. Amazon and iTunes both sell DRM-free MP3s.

Video is taking baby steps in the same direction. One recent example: RealNetworks' RealDVD software (which is now embroiled in litigation) lets you rip DVDs to your PC with a single click, but they're still protected by a DRM system. Meanwhile, studios are experimenting with bundling legally rippable copies of their films with DVDs.

But ending DRM as we know it is still years off. Keep your fingers crossed – for 2020.

NEXT PAGE: The Google PC

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

The Google PC

In case you haven't noticed, Google now has its well funded mitts on just about every aspect of computing.

From web browsers to mobile phones, soon you'll be able to spend all day in the Googleverse and never have to leave. Will Google build its own OS next?

What is it?

It's everything, or so it seems. Google Checkout provides an alternative to PayPal. Street View is well on its way to snapping every house on every street in the world. And the fun is just starting: Google's Chrome browser earned a 1 percent market share in the first 24 hours of its existence.

Although Google seems to have covered everything, many observers believe that logically the firm will next attempt to attack a very big part of the software market: the OS. Android, Google's mobile OS, has already arrived with the G1.

When is it coming?

The Google Chrome browser is the first toe Google has dipped into these waters.

While a browser is how users interact with most of Google's products, making the underlying OS somewhat irrelevant, Chrome nevertheless needs an OS to operate.

To make Microsoft irrelevant, Google would have to work its way through a minefield of device drivers. Even then, the result wouldn't be any good for people who need to use specialised applications, particularly business users.

But a simple Google OS, combined with cheap hardware, could change the PC landscape in ways that smaller players who have toyed with open-source OSes so far haven't been able to do.

For an idea of how this could work, see thinkgos.com. We expect Google to have a more tangible offering five years from now.

NEXT PAGE: Your fingers do even more walking

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Your fingers do even more walking

Last year Microsoft introduced Surface, a table with a built-in touchscreen; many industry watchers have seen it as a bellwether for touch-sensitive computing embedded into every device imaginable. The reality of touch devices may be driven by something entirely different and more accessible, however: the Apple iPhone.

What is it?

With the iPhone, multitouch technology reinvented what we knew about the humble touchpad. Since the iPhone's launch, multitouch has found its way into numerous mainstream devices, including the Asus Eee PC 900 and a Dell Latitude tablet PC. Now all eyes are turned back to Apple, to see how it will further adapt multitouch.

Patents that Apple has filed for a multitouch tablet PC have many people expecting the company to dive into this neglected market, possibly sparking explosive growth in the category.

When is it coming?

It's not a question of when multitouch will arrive, but how quickly the trend will grow. Fewer than 200,000 touchscreen devices were shipped in 2006. iSuppli analysts have estimated that a whopping 833 million will be sold in 2013.

NEXT PAGE: Mobile-phone ticketing

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Mobile-phone ticketing

Log into your airline's website. Check in. Print out your boarding pass. Hope you don't lose it en route to the airport. When it's time to fly home, wait in line at the airport because you lacked access to a printer at the hotel. Can't we come up with a better way?

What is it?

The idea of the paperless office has been with us since Bill Gates was in short trousers, but no matter how sophisticated your OS or your use of digital files in lieu of printouts, they're of no help once you leave your desk.

People need printouts of maps, receipts and instructions and, often, accessing a PC isn't convenient. PDAs failed to fill that need, so replacements are coming to the rescue: mobile phones.

Applications to eliminate the need for a printout in nearly any situation are flooding the market. Cellfire.com offers mobile coupons you can pull up on your phone and show in a shop or restaurant; Tickets.com now makes concert tickets available on mobile phones via its Tickets@Phone service.

The final frontier, though, remains the airline boarding pass, which has resisted this step since the advent of web-based check-in.

When is it coming?

There's already a handful of mobile phone apps that replace paper; even paperless boarding passes are creeping forward.

US airline Continental has been experimenting with a mobile-phone check-in system that lets you show an encrypted, 2D barcode on your phone to a TSA agent in lieu of a paper boarding pass.

The agent scans the barcode with an ordinary scanner and you're on your way. Introduced at the Houston Intercontinental Airport, the pilot project became permanent earlier this year; Continental rolled it out in three other airports in 2008. The company promises more airports to come.

NEXT PAGE: Location, location, location

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location

Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.

Location, location, location

GPS is taking off, as mobile-phone makers, carriers and service providers have realised that many of us generally have no idea where we are at any given point.

A location-based service (LBS) takes raw GPS data that pinpoints your location and enhances this information with additional services, from suggesting nearby restaurants to specifying the whereabouts of your friends.

What is it?

LBS was originally envisioned as simply using mobile-phone signal triangulation to locate users' whereabouts. As the chips become more sophisticated, GPS is becoming the basis for new services.

Many startups have formed around location-based services.

Want a date? Never mind who's compatible; who's nearby? MeetMoi (meetmoi.com) can find them. Need to get a dozen people all in one place? Both Whrrl (whrrl.com) and Buddy Beacon (ulocate.com) tell you where your friends are.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled about LBS. Worries about surreptitious tracking or stalking are commonplace. There's also the possibility of a flood of spam messages being delivered to your phone.

When is it coming?

LBS is growing fast. The only thing holding it back is the adoption of GPS-enabled phones (not helped by carriers' steep fees to activate the function). But with iPhones selling like hot cakes, that's not much of a hurdle to overcome. Expect to see massive adoption of these technologies in 2009 and 2010.

  1. Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
  2. A groundbreaking new circuit
  3. 32-core computing
  4. 64bit computing with more RAM
  5. Windows 7 – inevitably
  6. SuperSpeed USB
  7. Goodbye graphics cards
  8. Recharge without wires
  9. Gesture recognition
  10. Curtains for DRM
  11. The Google PC
  12. Your fingers do even more walking
  13. Mobile-phone ticketing
  14. Location, location, location