8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World

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In the time-honored Kiplinger Letter tradition of forecasting exciting technological breakthroughs, here are eight that will change the way you live and work.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 2 of 9

Digital Receipts

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Here's one easy way to slim down your overstuffed wallet: digital receipts, which have been gaining acceptance among retailers and consumers since Apple began the practice in 2005.

Paperless receipts are going mainstream in 2012, with Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Gap and others stepping up their use. The move also saves retailers money and helps the environment. Over 9.6 million trees are cut down in the U.S. each year to make paper for receipts.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 3 of 9

Apps for Faster Service

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Waiter, check please? Uh-oh, can't locate the waiter? There's an app for that. Electronic devices to speed the process, too.

The app, Tabbedout, lets diners pay with a smart phone -- no server is needed. A system called the Rail reads your credit card at the table. Then there's Presto, which does everything from summoning your server to showing photos of entrées. Presto claims 10% higher sales and 16% more in tips.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 4 of 9

Light-Field Cameras: Aim, Shoot -- Then Focus Later

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A new photography technology has big implications for many industries: The light-field camera, from Lytro, promises a revolution in image editing. Unlike conventional cameras, light-field lenses capture all light rays in a scene, allowing pictures to be focused later, rather than when the snapshot is taken. It should find applications everywhere -- from medical imaging of internal organs to taking photos from a moving vehicle of a home for sale.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 5 of 9

Energy-Saving Computer Chips

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New low-power, superfast computer chips will help speed energy efficiency. Production starts next year on extremely small chips -- 1 millimeter square -- that have the processing power of basic 8-bit chips but use only a third of the energy.

They'll soon become ubiquitous, creating an "Internet of things": Appliances, lighting, heating & cooling equipment, etc., will have the chips, tying them to the Web. Built-in sensors will regulate energy use, adjusting to real-time changes in rates or allowing control from a distance via smart phone, for example. A business owner will be able to dial back air-conditioning at the shop from home if energy rates peak. Other potential applications include medical devices, such as blood pressure monitors that automatically, wirelessly transmit readings from a patient at home to the doctor.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 6 of 9

Supercharged, Super-Slim Batteries

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In the works from Japan-based NEC for over a decade, the organic radical battery is just one hundredth of an inch thick, can refresh a teeny screen 2,000 times and can be recharged in less than a minute. In 2013, it'll appear in enhanced credit and debit cards that display balances, in hotel keys, in subway and train passes, and in much slimmer, lighter smart phones. It also paves the way for slender flat-screen displays and e-readers that feel like paper.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 7 of 9

Self-Healing Airplanes

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Researchers are also mulling the use of shape-memorizing alloys made up of nickel, titanium, copper, aluminum and cadmium. Such alloys can be engineered to repair themselves from nicks, scratches and dents on critical airframe parts, such as a wing.

The alloys are electrically charged during the manufacture of a piece of airframe. Charging the alloys magnetizes their molecules in such a way that a small nick or scratch disappears as molecules almost magically move back into position and "heal." Catching and fixing stress fractures early prevents bigger problems down the road. Shape-memorizing alloys may also find uses in the medical field.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 8 of 9

Dick Tracy Watches

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Coming to stores in time for the year-end holiday shopping season: Smart watches that will let you check e-mails, get directions and more, like something out of the fabled detective comic strip or a long-ago Star Trek episode. The wearable device wirelessly communicates with a cell phone to display text, maps and other info. Look for Sony's SmartWatch and Fossil's Metawatch, among others. Also data-displaying glasses from Google and sunglasses giant Oakley. Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are also working on wearable gizmos.
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8 New Technologies That Will Rock Your World | Slide 9 of 9

Miniature Video Cameras for Police

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Cops are poised to make use of miniaturized, portable video technology. In the works: Cameras the size of a thumbtack that officers can wear on shirt collars and lapels, or that they can attach to other items they wear or carry. Field tests in Denver, San Francisco and Seattle will soon spread to other cities, including Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as smaller jurisdictions.

The wearable video cameras can be turned on at the discretion of the police officer. They're generally for use in public areas during arrests, searches or interrogations. Citizen and legal concerns about privacy issues preclude continuous recording.
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