Standout Technologies of 2013

3D Printer

Technologies seem to evolve at exponential rates each year, and 2013 was no different than usual. In a time when new devices are outdated as soon as they are released, creating novel ideas is becoming increasingly difficult. Nonetheless, some smart engineers, programmers and designers were able to break new ground last year that will pave the way for endless possibilities.

Google Glass

Developers finally got to see the world through Google Glass this year, and the early buzz surrounding the device sounds promising. The voice controlled computer that you wear like a pair of glasses projects images in the wearer's field of vision, displaying maps, emails and live video for teleconferences, just to name a few of its capabilities. Aside from being a major commercial breakthrough, Google Glass is sure to change the way we think about privacy and appropriate computer use.

3D Printers

3D printing technology has existed for a few years, but 2013 at last saw them become commercially accessible. In addition to selling small personal 3D printers through their online store, Office Depot now offers 3D printing services at 150 locations in the U.S. Such printers can create physical manifestations of computer models. The most miraculous use of the technology so far happened this summer when a company called Novacopy designed a prosthetic foot for an amputee duck, giving him the ability to waddle once more.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid

The Fusion is the latest announced self-driving vehicle. Many people are rightfully weary of the safety hazards these vehicles may pose, but their navigation actually relies on million-year-old techniques. The Fusion is equipped with LiDAR infrared sensors that project infrared lights at a rate of over two million times per second. The vehicle's computer uses the reflected light to create a visual representation of its surroundings, much like dolphins do with sound waves. The Fusion can purportedly differentiate between an opossum and trash from 300 feet away.

The Microsoft IllumiRoom

Sony's Playstation 4 may be winning the console wars, but Microsoft might dominate the next generation of gaming if the IllumiRoom goes to market. A video released early in 2013 showcased the IllumiRoom's gaming applications. Using the Xbox Kinect, a camera and a projector, the device projects images on the walls of the room that complement the images seen on the television. For example, the promotional video shows a gamer playing a snow level while it “snows” in their living room.

Candy Crush Saga

The significance of Candy Crush cannot be understated. Mobile technologies are finally bringing videogames to the masses, and the designers of Candy Crush developed the perfect formula for an addictive experience that has everyone from middle aged women to teenage boys needing more. In March of 2013, the Facebook version alone accounted for 46 million players each month, pushing it over Farmville 2 as the most popular game on the social networking site. In Japan, the iPhone version recently jumped to the number one spot on Apple's list of most downloaded apps.