Three Gadget Trends To Watch In 2013: 3D Printers, Better Internet TV and the Connected Home

4 minute read
Chris Knight avatar

       With 2013 just around the corner and a host of gadgets likely already under the tree, what new gizmos will you be playing in the next twelve months?

3D Printers Will Be Building Themselves

Lurking under the radar for the past couple of years, 3D printing is a reality in many industries, with MakerBot leading the market. But in 2012 Kickstarter-funded companies began to churn them out for the masses, with the first units from the likes of FORM 1 and PrintrBot due to arrive early next year.

Using a range of plastics or materials that are extruded in layers to build your model, they can churn out almost anything, including self-replication, barring a some vital components. The controversial technology can print whatever you like, from 3D game characters, gun parts, replacement body parts, models or ships-already-in-bottles

Some copying has already has copyright lawyers sharpening their teeth while the gun parts bit is a particular cause celebre at the moment, and while the current examples fail after a few shots, will remain a major issue.



3D Printers could see a host of new cottage industries born

While few will need a 3D printer, the sheer gadget-factor, and the fact that the makers are tying in various sources to help you create designs for printing, from the game Minecraft to common apps will make it more appealing, and if you don't want one, expect print shops to be setting them up soon for bespoke jobs. 

Bigger, Better Internet TV

Many devices from your set-top box to games console and Blu-ray player can already connect to the net and stream extra content to your HD set. However, in 2013, expect bigger and better things. Apple (in advance of its HDTV project) will likely update the Apple TV dongle to offer more services and increase interactivity with your iPhone or iPad, beyond the Remote app, with social interaction high on the agenda. 

Learning Opportunities

Microsoft on the other hand is rumored to be bringing a lite or set-top box version of its Xbox for the non-gaming consumer to offer them a wide range of Internet services and casual/social gaming, perhaps hoping to get them interested in the next-generation Xbox 720 console or Windows 8 devices. You can already control the existing Xbox with Microsoft's smartphone SmartGlass app, suggesting that soon almost every home media device will be run from your phone or tablet. 

As more broadcasters put their shows online for streaming and catch-up viewing, are we reaching a tipping point where you'll be able to cut the cord to your cable or satellite provider? Certainly, the gadget makers are ready if you go for it. If not, most people will settle for all their favorite services on the one box, and whichever company manages that could generate lots of interest. 

And, to interest consumers in web-only services, the major players like Amazon are now commissioning their own original programming, with its Prime Instant Video service announcing six new series in production. Expect more of that to come too. 

Welcome the Home-Gadget Internet

For years, we've been promised a techno-home by science TV programs, and in 2013 it could finally arrive. Call it machine-to-machine interaction or the Internet of Things, in the last few years meter readers, solar power systems, light switches, curtains, kitchen appliances and new cars have all started communicating. 

Smart home management could monitor your alarms, turn the lights on when its dark enough, cut the heating when no one is in, and perform so many other functions. Controlled from your smartphone, you can warm up the car from bed, see what's in stock (or not) in the refrigerator from your office.

While achieving all of those ambitions in one dwelling is pretty high-end and likely the preserve of the first smart towns or cities, any can now start to seriously invest in adding an army of connected technology to their home. 

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