Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 10 technology breakthroughs of 2008

1. Apple's App Store

Apple's App Store has made creating and distributing mobile applications for cellphone users easy - jumpstarting the mobile-app development market and creating clones such as the Android Market.

It even forced Research in Motion to offer a BlackBerry Application Storefront.

2. Android

The T-Mobile HTC G1 phone scores with its operating system, Android, the free mobile operating system from Google. It's the first mobile OS to make its debut in years and the G1 is just the first of what will be many phones that use it.

3. USB 3.0

USB 3.0 will be 10 times faster than the current USB 2.0 standard, and will increase the amount of electrical current that can be delivered through a USB cable.

4. Video-Capable SLRs

This year, two new cameras, the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D Mark II not only capture top-notch still images, but let the photographer shoot high-definition videos as well.

5. The Memristor

The discovery of the "memristor," or memory transistor will make it possible to develop computer systems that remember what's stored in memory when they are turned off.

That means computers that don't need to be booted up and systems that are far more energy efficient than the current crop.

6. This year, the Global Positioning System (GPS) has been used in many new technologies, from the iPhone 3G and the T-Mobile G1 to notebooks such as Fujitsu's LifeBook series.

7. Flash memory is a mainstay of most consumer electronics products, from ultralight notebooks to digital cameras and media players.

8. Speedo LZR

Speedo's new LZR swimsuit blends new materials and a dose of NASA rocket science to boost the speeds of elite swimmers -- legally.

Image: Austria's Mirna Jukic prepares to swim in her LZR Speedo suit in the Women's 200m breaststroke at the world short course swimming championships in Manchester, northern England. | Photograph: REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

9. Edible Chips

Soon, tiny edible chips will track when patients take their pills (or don't) and monitor the effects of the drugs they're taking. Proteus, a Redwood City, California, company, has created tiny chips out of silicon grains that, once swallowed, activate in the stomach.

The chips send a signal to an external patch that monitors vital parameters such as heart rate, temperature, state of wakefulness or body angle.

10. Flexible Displays to be a reality by 2010 or 2011

For years, researchers have worked on thin, paperlike displays that can be folded, rolled or sewn into the sleeve of your hoodie.

Flexible displays could change the way we interact with the info-universe, creating new kinds of cellphones, portable computers, e-newspapers and electronic books.

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