A new year is all about hope. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? How can technology help? This week I thought I’d hand the mic to Seattle tech thinkers and leaders and ask them one intentionally broad question:
What’s one thing you hope to see happen in technology this year?
I’d love to see the next generation of wearable tech hit the streets, particularly smart watches packed with sensors for the fitness and Quantified Self enthusiast. I care less about reading email and SMS on my watch and more about it measuring my steps, my heart rate, my runs (with GPS), etc., in a beautifully designed package that just works.
— Marcelo Calbucci, co-founder and CTO, EveryMove
I want to see Seattle established more broadly as one of the top two or three cities in the country for strong entrepreneurs and technologists. Large companies like Amazon build this perception, but I’m also looking forward to seeing how companies like Zulily, Apptio, Zillow, Redfin, Tableau and up-and-coming startups shape this reputation.
— Julie Sandler, principal, Madrona Venture Group
I’d like to see a system that can make sense of all the sensor data humanity is generating and allow us to save energy, reduce wasted time and live a more fulfilled life. Nearly all of us interact with multiple sensors multiple times per day. How systems can mine this data to add the invisible benefit to our lives is the challenge and opportunity in 2014.
— Stefan Weitz, director of Bing Search, Microsoft
More tech innovations that help solve some of our world’s most pressing social issues would be cool. Things such as mobile health innovations using SMS to deliver health diagnosis or using Google Glass for health treatment.
— Nadia Mahmud, co-founder and CEO, Jolkona
My hope for technology in 2014 is that we will see a greater focus on STEM education in Seattle schools and beyond so more of our kids become software engineers. We need this to grow the industry and our local economy.
— Adam Tratt, founder and CEO, Haiku Deck
1. Someone finally figures out how to make printer ink free. 2. Microsoft finally understands that they need us more than we need them. 3. Google finally makes a change that doesn’t piss everybody off. 4. Apple finally ships a product that everybody else doesn’t copy. 5. Facebook finally abandons the Poke. 6. Twitter finally enables animated GIF support.
— Chris Pirillo, geek guru and founder of LockerGnome
Though it’s tempting to want mass adoption for cars that drive themselves (as the parent of a pre-driving-age teenager), what’s closest to my heart is reversing the historic underrepresentation of women and people of color in tech. Why weren’t there any girls in my stepson’s 3D game-development class at DigiPen? Let’s fix that in 2014!
— Rebecca Lovell, TechStars mentor and instructor, UW’s technology management MBA program
I want to see tech move toward reducing poverty and inequality, and I think the key to that is transforming education. Those with less education are increasingly seeing their jobs replaced by technology while those with more education increasingly have the skills to use the technology. I can’t think of a more important problem for tech to address.
— Ramez Naam, speaker and science-fiction author of “Nexus” and “Crux”
I hope tech companies finally realize that much of the wealth in America is controlled by baby boomers, and that they begin to focus on that market. With all the social-media participation by older people, even more sharing of information is going to happen, and we will be willing to buy into more technology.
— Buzz Bruggeman, TechStars mentor and co-founder, ActiveWords
I hope to see more women enter the arena. Leaders like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg have brought attention to the issue, but I’m equally excited by women taking risks in less visible ways — taking a coding class, starting a side project, pitching to investors or re-entering the workforce after taking time off to spend with family.
— Martina Welke, CEO and co-founder, Zealyst
I want to see the major Seattle accelerator programs enroll 2014 founders that look like Seattle, both with regard to women and people of color.
— Dan Shapiro, creator, Robot Turtles
I hope Microsoft announces a major consumer-robotics initiative. Today the Kinect sensor platform is a godsend for professional and amateur roboticists alike. Bill Gates famously speculated about a robot in every home. Will 2014 be the year Microsoft gets serious about the personal robot?
— Ryan Calo, University of Washington law professor and faculty director, UW Tech Policy Lab
I hope to see more CDOs (Chief Design Officers) in tech this coming year.
— Jenny Lam, co-founder, Jackson Fish Market
I want to see how technology can help create and develop more genuine and deeper human connections. Technology demands an enormous amount of our attention to make us feel like we’re connected. How can technology help me uncover the gifts that walk by me every single day?
— Kyle Kesterson, founder and chief freak, Freak’n Genius
Every time a new story is published about yet another way the government is spying on us, I roll my eyes and think, “Of course … why am I not surprised?” But that’s the wrong feeling to have. I shouldn’t just give a breathy sigh, shake my head and then continue to go about my day. This year, let’s do something about it.
— Andru Edwards, CEO and editor-in-chief, GearLive
I’d like to see people recognize technology as a complement to life instead of the embodiment of life. Use your mobile device to level up, but don’t use it to disappear.
— Rebecca Norlander, co-founder and CEO, Health123
I hope this is the year that excitement about the next big consumer service gets trumped by excitement about innovative new technologies helping businesses save time and be more effective.
— Adam Schoenfeld, co-founder and CEO, Simply Measured
Online registration for the Affordable Care Act in 2013 illustrated the importance of technology literacy and access for all. My hope is that we see great improvements this year on both of those fronts. Better use of software engineering and human-centered design principles by the federal government would also be great!
— Julie Kientz, professor, University of Washington Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering
One thing I hope to see happen in tech this year is the rise of context. Who shot that mobile photo? Where was it captured? How fast was her heart beating when she shot it? The addition of context to everything that is made, consumed, and shared will most certainly uncover amazingly human insights.
— Chase Jarvis, photographer and founder, CreativeLive
As someone who gives a lot of presentations, it baffles me that in 2013 it’s still so challenging to get projectors to work. In 2014 I’d love for someone to develop an affordable projector that works every time, like magic! Too much to ask?
— Liz Pearce, CEO, LiquidPlanner
I hope we find our courage. This is the greatest time in history to be an entrepreneur or creative of any kind. We have all the tools we need to make movies or start companies or share our work with the planet sitting in our pockets. All that’s missing is courage, and and that’s the one thing technology can never give us.
— Scott Berkun, speaker and author, “The Year Without Pants: WordPress and The Future of Work.”
Mónica Guzmán’s column appears in Sunday’s Seattle Times; this particular column contains more material than what ran in the paper. Got a story about living with technology in the Northwest — or know someone she should meet? Send her an email, follow her on Twitter @moniguzman or send her a message on Facebook.