Key Tech Trends for 2012

frog design published a nice piece two days ago on their blog, compiling the thoughts of many of their top creatives, strategists and executives regarding key technology trends for the coming year.  Few firms have the credibility right now of frog, so I encourage you to head on over and read the post in it’s entirety.  A few of the trends they identified stand out as being particularly salient for businesses and agencies, across a variety of specialties, so I’ll summarize and build-on a few here.

Many theorists speculated that our sense of “Place” would diminish in significance with the rise of digital technologies, however, as many of the trends tip toe around, “Place” has never been more important. Cities are obviously in vogue (perhaps permanently) and our digital devices make unlocking their ultimate potential more accessible than ever. Innovations that expand the connection between our digital device and the physical space will continue to grow faster than we can imagine.

As Ficklin, Tuttle and Richardson attest, the computing experience will continue to become more personal or “human” as it were.  The obvious developments from 2011, as they identify were Apple’s Siri and Ford’s Microsoft Sync, both imperfect in many ways but no less, important steps in the development of a more sensitive interaction between human and computer.

One trend of particular interest, is Thomas Sutton’s identification of the Quantified Self.  Made possible by data aggregation platforms that will couple information from technologies like Nike+ and Jawbone’s Up band, providing users with a more integrated understanding of things like their overall health, in this case, further enabling insights and suggestions that are more and more specific, nuanced and in turn useful.

Nathan Weyer’s submission about the social network becoming more personal is one of my favorites.  Social networks have succeeded at fulfilling a number of basic human desires like telling one’s personal narrative, collaborating to achieve larger goals, and creating, altering or personalizing things of interest, but what they have yet to do is facilitate the need for intimacy and deeper personal connection.  Perhaps as a counter-trend to the terabytes of data we all have stored in the cloud, expect businesses to focus our social circles, facilitating deeper connection and an improved ability to accomplish the things that really matter to us.

The base of the pyramid will continue to lumber along behind the developed markets, but with an even greater importance.  As paired-down, lower-cost smartphones become more prevalent in developing markets, a second wave of developers will begin to create software that addresses some of the more basic needs of their users, possibly resulting in achievements that solve larger, more significant world issues.

Although Biomimicry is nothing new, it will continue to grow in importance for designers, developers and technologists as efficiency and performance simultaneously develop into central prerequisites of great devices.  And as we all know, when it comes to maximizing these two factors, no one does it better than Mother Nature.  Reena Jena  astutely points out that Mother Nature’s design principles will gain larger scale applications in things like city design and planning.  I couldn’t agree more.  Look no further than Geoffrey West’s fascinating application of biological principals to strategic urban planning.

Anyway, this is by no means complete and instead represents, what I think are some of the more interesting and significant clusters around which some of the most progress will occur in the next year.  Again, head on over to frog design to see their entire post on the subject and, please, share your thoughts if you feel so inclined.

[photo via: x-ray delta one on Flickr]

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