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Analog Angle Article

Let’s hold that crystal ball up to the rear-view mirror

It's customary for pundits everywhere to polish their crystal balls for the New Year and tell you what's likely to happen in the coming year. Since the turn of the calendar coincides with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), there is added incentive for these over-the-top proclamations, and this year we assured that 3-D and e-readers are sure things. Certainly the pundits occasionally right, but more often they are not&#8212and you only know which is which in hindsight, of course.

But in our hype-driven world&#8212where every upcoming development is promoted as the next big thing and heralded as the solution to all your problems (or even better, all the world's problems), and 90% of the marketing battle is presumed to getting above the noise level&#8212looking back gives us a reality check. Many of these anticipated evolutionary and even revolutionary items haven't gelled or achieved critical mass, or their adoption rate is much slower than their proponents assured us it would be.

Certainly, ongoing progress requires us to learn from the past, yet not be overly constrained by it. Take a break and look at this list of highly promoted products, technologies, and tools of the past few years, think about where they are now, and then add your own:

  • Ultrawideband (UWB)
  • WiMax
  • Broadband over Power Line
  • Home networks over the power line
  • Ferromagnetic memory
  • IEEE 1394 (Firewire)
  • USB 3.0
  • Multicore processing
  • GaN, SiGe, and SiN devices
  • integrated optoelectronics
  • Linux on the desktop PC, and end-user mobile devices
  • One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

Of course, history also teaches us that the biggest winners are often the ones that hardly anyone saw coming: think Google, Twitter, and even personal computers. Are there any barely visible developments that you want to tell us about&#8212or perhaps you prefer to keep them to yourself?♦

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