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What Tech Gadgets Will 2011 Put In Your Pocket?


Mark Jannot, welcome again.

MR: It's great to be here, Jennifer.

LUDDEN: So 2010 seemed to be a great year for touch-screen technology. I'm thinking of the iPhone and other mobile devices. But I take it you see a shift coming.

MR: You'll be standing in front of your television and you'll be, you know, waving your hands. It's basically like playing charades with your electronics, I think. So it's another form of entertainment, I guess.

LUDDEN: Oh, no. So - but that means my kids can't play in front of the TV, then. That would throw things off.

MR: I think there will be very carefully defined gestures. But yes, I'm looking forward to the crazy chaos that's caused by unintended gestures - causing, you know, volume raising, channel shifting, that kind of thing.

LUDDEN: Now, 2010 also saw a growing new market for 3D televisions. What's happening there?

MR: So the great trend that we're seeing emerge is glasses-free 3D - naked-eye 3D, and it's already sort of about to emerge on the Nintendo 3DS handheld game. And that's the way it's going to emerge in this year, on small screens and smartphones, and things like that. But within the next couple of years, we should see actual TV screens - where you can watch your shows and your sports in glorious 3D, without having to look like a geek.

LUDDEN: Turning to automobiles now, you say cars are going to get smarter in the name of safety.

MR: The - sort of first example of this in the new year is from Volvo, with their pedestrian-detection system, which will actually notice if there is a pedestrian in the roadway up to 160 feet away. And if it senses that you aren't noticing - basically by, you know, seeing that you haven't slowed down - it will sound an alarm. And if you still don't do anything, it will actually start braking without your efforts.


MR: And there's another - a new safety feature coming out from Ford, called curve control. This is a system that senses when you're entering a curve - you know, like a highway off-ramp - too quickly, and it automatically reduces your speeds by up to 10 miles an hour in one second, in order to keep you safe and keep you from rolling over, potentially. Fifty thousand accidents a year are caused by people entering curves too quickly.

LUDDEN: Finally, I got to say, I am skeptical about this next item. You say 2011 will be the year of the flying car?


MR: Or drivable airplane - it's maybe a small semantic distinction. But this is something that we at Popular Science have been touting for practically our entire 130 years.

LUDDEN: I can see it on the cover, yes.

MR: So you're not just, you know, you're backing out of your garage and taking off on the street in front of your house. You do have to drive it to an airport. But it is a great transition, as it's called, towards our ultimate dream of the flying car.

LUDDEN: All right. So I guess we now know that old cartoon, the Jetsons, was set in 2011.

MR: There you go. The future is upon us.

LUDDEN: Mark Jannot, editor-in-chief of Popular Science magazine. He joined us from NPR's New York bureau. Thank you so much.

MR: Thanks, Jennifer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.