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December 21, 2010

Consumer trends to watch for in 2011 and beyond

PwC's TICE group offers their predictions

Interactive e-books, mobile shopping carts and more virtual experiences outside of gaming will be some of the emerging technologies to watch for in 2011 and beyond, according to a series of trends offered by PwC's Technology, Information Communications and Entertainment & Media (TICE) group.

"The future of consumer technologies resides in borderless digital communication designed for people who are looking for feel good technologies, as well as faster and more secure information they can access anytime, anywhere," says   Dr. David Jacobson, Director of Emerging Technologies at PwC.

Technology changes will either be transformational, building on prior innovations, or they will be disruptive, so completely different and new that they will very quickly influence and change the lifestyles and spending habits of consumers, says Jacobson.

Key emerging tech trends to look out for in 2011 (and beyond) include:

Wi-Fi Direct -  This convenient new way for devices to communicate directly with each other without having to connect first to a conventional Wi-Fi access point bypasses traditional Wi-Fi networks and provides numerous device-to-device applications. Printers, scanners and handheld devices like phones and gaming consoles can now share and synch securely within a short distance of each other, for instance, exchanging files and videos at speeds more than 25 times faster than other options on the market.

Next Generation e-Books -  The huge interest in and use of mobile tablets or "pads" is driving new multimedia applications. Current e-books transform the conventional paper format into an electronic book, but the next generation will go even further, providing an enhanced and interactive audio/visual experience for the reader through cross-linking of the e-book to other digital forms, including videos, social media and web cams.

Mobile payments going mainstream -  Mobile commerce is becoming quicker and more secure for consumers and businesses alike, making it easier to shop and order securely, particularly when making smaller transactions. Secure and quick-click checkouts from a mobile device will give consumers the ability to make on-the-go payments and to stay logged in while they surf for more goods to buy.

The mobile shopping cart -  Grocery stores will provide suggestions, advice and check-out options to grocery shoppers using mobile devices including in-built screens on shopping carts that remember your last visit, know your preferences and provide information and offers on what's in stock, including row information and recipes. The relationship between consumer-packaged goods suppliers and grocery retailers and how they market to their customers will also evolve.

VoD in-your-hand -  Recently released Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards have jump-started mobile and personalized video-on-demand (VoD). This IP-based technology will let you receive your choice of movie entertainment whenever you would like it, wherever you want it, complementing Cellular, WiFi and WiMAX channels and avoiding video-traffic overloads on these networks. 

"Feel-good" technology: gesturing and haptic feedback -  The desire for greater physical freedoms in controlling devices has led to gaming consoles without handheld controls that rely purely on interactive 3D visuals, sensors and gesturing. A combination of gesturing and physical feedback will have applications beyond gaming. The possibility to "reach" into the computer display and "grasp" electronically-generated objects, feeling their size, shape and texture will enhance education; for instance, teaching medical students to feel the difference between healthy and diseased organs.

The mobile cloud  - Accessing software, systems and applications in "the cloud" began with software as a service (SaaS) and is quickly accelerating as confidence grows. Companies are now using time- and security-critical solutions outside of their firewalls. Mobile computing is an important new impetus for use of "the cloud" and versatile mobile devices are becoming pervasive 'thin clients' ideal for accessing cloud solutions, anytime, anywhere.

"The digital channel has already touched all industries and is dramatically changing the ways in which consumers buy and relax. Companies have to keep pace with this rapid development of new technologies and re-examine their business models so they can compete in the new mobile Internet," says Jacobson.

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