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Growing Technology

RSS By: Ben Potter,

Technology editor Ben Potter brings you the latest in technology news, and how you can apply it to farming.


5 Consumer Tech Trends Worth Watching

Jan 03, 2014

 Some technology experts are predicting 2014 will be the year that technology gets "a lot more personal," thanks to tech trends such as wearable devices such as smart watches.

"There’s going to be massive growth in the wearable device market," says CNBC reporter Cadie Thompson.

Oftentimes, consumer-driven technologies find their way to the farm. Consider how ubiquitous smartphone use has become in agriculture, for example. So, it’s not a stretch to consider staring out of the combine with your new Google Glasses or checking commodity prices on your smart watch. Here are four other consumer tech trends worth watching, and examples of how they could be used on the farm.

1. Crowdfunding. Farmers tend to be natural tinkerers, and more than a few have a one-of-a-kind process, fix or invention sitting in the shop. Crowdfunding is a way to unleash those ideas into the world and build a business around them. The name explains how it works – you solicit funds from multiple people at websites as Kickstarter or Fundable to raise money for your project. Patrick Chung, a partner at the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, calls crowdfunding "the new lottery."

2. Local. Local information is a natural extension of the proliferation of smartphones and other GPS-enabled devices. Examples include local businesses sending push notifications about sales when you’re within a certain distance of the store. Current telemetry software in agriculture basically has this functionality already – sending you alerts when a tractor is driving over a specified speed or needs its next oil change, for instance.

3. Payments. Alternative forms of payment are ready to break big, Thompson says. This includes virtual currencies such as bitcoin, as well as a technology called Coin, which is a credit-card-sized electronic device that holds all of your credit cards in one place. "Your phone is going to become your wallet," Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, told CNBC. It might not have any on-farm applications, but it will at least make life incrementally easier when dining out or grocery shopping.

4. Ephemeral. What is ephemeral media? Think of it as "nonpermanent," something that only exists temporarily. Snapchat is a prime example. It is a mobile app where the recipient can view your photo "snaps" between 1 and 10 seconds before they are deleted. Ephemeral media has its critics (for example, with screengrab technology, Snapchat is hardly "temporary"), but the underlying point remains – privacy is still important, even in the era of social media, where much of one’s life can be live-casted on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet.

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