What a year 2013 was for communication technology. In an era where 12 months can seem like an eternity for new technical advances, this past year certainly saw its share of innovations.
Among the notable product launches in 2013, the following five are some of the most unique:
* The Chromecast. This $35 thumb-drive size product comes from Google and plugs into the USB port of a high-def television, allowing the viewer to stream wirelessly through a plethora of TV shows, movies, music, and videos from sources like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and Google Play apps on a tablet, iOS smartphone, or Android phone.
* The Apple iPhone 5s. It features a better camera than its predecessor as well as a more capable processsor, along with the Touch ID fingerprint reader that is built right into the home button. This instant user recognition allows for quicker unlocking of the phone (no password or tracing maze needed), and it also allows users to authenticate purchases in iTunes and the App Store.
* The Nokia Lumia 1020 phone. This product is notable not so much for its phone capabilities as for its 41-megapixel camera which set a new high standard for cellphone photography. In addition to the high-quality resolution of its photos, it also has better zooming features than other cellphone cameras.
* Apple’s OS X Mavericks. This latest iteration of a Mac operating system (the tenth, if you’re counting) adds more life to the computer’s battery, offers new versions of Maps and iBooks and features Finder Tabs and Tags.
* The 94Fifty. This is not a computer nor a smartphone nor a tablet. It is, oddly enough, a smart basketball going for about $300. But it’s a basketball all in it’s own class and takes the user to school. It comes from InfoMotion Sports Technology and, although it looks like a normal basketball, it is not. Inside is bluetooth technology and a sensor that communicates with a special app in the user’s iPad or iPhone. The ball is designed to coach you into become a better player, telling you such things as what kind of backspin is on your shot, how quickly you get those shots off, and whether your shooting arc to the basket could be improved.
With 2014 upon us, we won’t have to wait long before we discover what new products will wow us in the year ahead.