With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, it’s hard at times for nonprofits keep up and determine which tech trends are worth their investment.
To help nonprofits start the new year right, Jane Zhang (Executive Director of TechSoup Canada and Director of Online Services at the Centre for Social Innovation) highlighted five cutting-edge tech trends to follow, five important trends nonprofits should embrace in 2014, and three best practices for using technology.
This post recaps the five tech trends for 2014. If you missed this session, you can view the slides on SlideShare.
What is the World of Tech Offering in 2014?
1. 3D Printing
3D printing has become more accessible over the past year and many technology enthusiasts have experimented and found innovative new ways of using this technology. This includes low cost 3D printed prosthetics (everything from limbs, to noses, to eyes) to 3D printed food. 3D Systems recently introduced the ChefJet™ series of kitchen-ready 3D printers for edibles and has even partnered with Hershey to explore printing chocolate.
2. Wearable technology
We’ve seen amazing tools come out from this trend, such as Google Glass and FitBit. What takes the cake, however, is an airbag system for cyclists, invented by Swedish designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin. The Hövding, marketed as an invisble bike helmet, utilizes advanced airbag helment technology (sensors and algorithms to tell the difference between biking and accidents) to enable this wearable technology to remain hidden until its deployed.
3. Robotic Technology
Robotics are increasingly becoming integrated into day-to-day interactions. The Parrot AR Drone allows users to control a flying helicopter drone (equipped with a camera) with mobile and tablet devices. Although the Parrot AR Drone is mainly intended for leisure, its ability to record during flight has great potential for filming.
In more advanced cases:
- Japan’s robotic tour guide, Tawabo, replaces the need to hire a quad-lingual employees to guide tourists.
- Amphibious snake robots, like HiBot’s ACM R5 are designed to aid in search and rescue efforts.
- Google’s driverless cars, the leader in automonous car technology, is currently legalized in three states.
4. Modular Phones
The concept of modular technologies is no stranger to the tech world (think of desktop computers -- parts can be replaced, customized and built separately). However in 2014, we’re excited to see that this modular approach is finally influencing mobile devices. Phone Bloks and Motorola’s Project Ara are experimenting with a modular phone that is built on an open platform. This allows users to customize their phone to fit their needs.
5. Virtual Reality
Who can forget the highly successful crowdfunding campaign for Oculus Rift? When the project raised above and waaay beyond it’s initial goal of $250,000, virtual reality was all the talk in the tech industry. Not only would virtual reality be a hit for gamers, its implications in simulations and assistive technologies would be enormous as well. Fast forward to present day, a consumer version of the Oculus Rift is rumoured to be ready by late 2014. With all this hype of virtual reality, it’s no wonder that other companies have started to develop their own virtual reality headsets.
That’s Great, But How Does This Impact My Nonprofit?
Don’t worry, we’re getting there! In the second part of this Toronto Net Tuesday recap, we cover tech trends that are more useful and feasible for nonprofits in 2014.