The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Wearable Tech
They are not only the next obvious horizon for consumer technology, but also smart watches, Google Glass and the like will force the tech world to re-approach the human-technology interface that we’ve relied on for so long — keyboards. Many ways of interacting with technology are being tried for novelty (Siri, for example), but it will only become crucial as wearable takes off in late 2014.
2. Same-Day Delivery
Amazon is doing it. Wal-Mart is in on it. Even eBay is joining up. Same-day delivery will have as much impact on changing consumers’ habits and eliminating the need for social contact and traditional errand running as the miracle of the Internet has had in the last 20 years.
Ty Morse, Songwhale ( http://www.songwhale.com )
3. 3D Printing Advancements
I think advancements in 3D printing will be the most disruptive technology to come out in 2014. It will allow first world countries to produce goods at a much lower cost without having to pay taxes and tariffs. If developing countries lose income because they are losing manufacturing contracts, will they continue to respect our intellectual property laws?
4. Privacy-Enhancing Technologies
Privacy has been an ongoing issue since the Internet has existed. With more data available than ever, and cases of service providers or government agencies sharing private information, privacy-enhancing technologies are growing in importance. We are reaching a peak in privacy issues, and I believe 2014 will be a pivotal year for services to aid in enhancing users’ privacy.
5. Healthcare Automation
Healthcare will be big in 2014 with new legislation adding complexity and requiring more care. Disruption will come from new digital health tools that deliver the care and efficiently pay for it.
6. Mobile Payments
More and more big brands, such as Starbucks, are integrating payment in their mobile apps. I think whoever cracks the code on simple mobile payments across many brands or apps is going to win big. Because everyone is so connected through their mobile devices now, adding a payment option will make the connection even greater and more valuable to brands because of the intelligence it will provide.
7. TV on the Internet
Netflix has started to make its own content, and cable as we know it will change. Because this content is released in seasons, not episodes, consumer demand for entertainment will no longer be on a linear schedule. Widespread Internet-TV consumption will be made possible via expanding fiber optic networks, and it will allow advertisers to become more dynamic to a specific viewer’s preferences.
8. Self-Driving Cars
I think you’ll begin to see self-driving cars take root in 2014. Transport trucks, taxi cabs and, finally, consumer-level cars will all be driverless within the next 10 years. However, this next year you’ll see the first steps occur in the consumer space in California.
9. Virtual Reality for Gaming
Gaming technology is evolving fast because it’s such a competitive industry. With the new consoles having the ability to track almost any motion and interaction with the game in real life, it’s only a matter of time until the technology incorporates vision into the experience and literally puts you in the game.
Russ Oja, Seattle Windows and Construction, LLC ( http://www.windowseattle.com