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Marthin De Beer’s 3 Tech Areas to Watch in 5 Years

As senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group, Marthin De Beer is heavily involved in fashioning tomorrow’s technologies.

So as he was unveiling yesterday’s announcement of a second I-Prize global innovation competition at the Networkers at Cisco Live crowd in Barcelona, it made sense to ask him which far-out technology areas he would pick to keep an eye on in, say, five years’ time.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a futurologist, you might want to look away at this point and jot down your own top technology picks for five years hence. When I put the question to De Beer, he kicked off his choice of technologies to watch with collaboration, and particularly…

1. Video

Here we are not just talking about Cisco TelePresence, but advanced applications such as Cisco Show and Share, which allows users to easily edit and publish video presentations with an automatically generated searchable transcript that can be annotated by the author and others in a secure environment.

“This is going to be a transformative solution,” De Beer believes, as it brings simplicity to the black art of video editing and publishing—all the work is carried out in a Web browser.

And remember Cisco’s show-stopping demonstration of three-dimensional telepresence in 2007? Well, De Beer reckons we are “three to five years away from a price point that is commercially acceptable and from when the technology will be easily available.”

(In the meantime, the development of ‘traditional’ Cisco TelePresence continues apace, with two new high-end, energy-efficient models being launched during the Networkers at Cisco Live show, along with five distinct telepresence applications for specific market sectors.)

Cisco Networkers Barcelona 2010

2. Energy

It’s no coincidence that the first I-Prize winner was an idea for using the network to optimize energy consumption. As the threat of global warming continues to grow, energy efficiency is likely to be one of the biggest agenda items of the next decade.

And Cisco is already looking into it on a number of fronts. Says De Beer: “First there is what we do with in-building management. Businesses have a big incentive to reduce energy use and costs so energy monitoring and management is very interesting to our customers.”

In addition, he says: “Think of Smart Grid. The power grid is the biggest network in the world but also the dumbest—so there’s an opportunity to use it as a control plane so energy can be transmitted more intelligently from supply to consumption.”

3. Water

I bet you weren’t expecting this one. However, De Beer says: “If you go beyond energy, then water has similar challenges.”

In some places more than half of all fresh water is lost through leaky pipelines before it reaches its destination, so, says De Beer: “There’s a great opportunity to use sensors to detect leaks in pipes. How we manage and administer that has great potential.”

Those were De Beer’s thoughts—but what about yours? If they are any good, whether related to any of the above areas or not, you might want to think seriously about registering for this year’s I-Prize competition now. Good luck.

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6 Comments.


  1. Wow.This is such an interesting topic.I wonder if it was 20 years ago that we could of imagined everything that has gone on and been invented.I bet there are stacks of technical equipment that has been produced and invented that would never have crossed anybodys mind. Its such a facinating subject.What will happen to the pc and the internet in general over the next decade.thanks for sharing.Will check back..kevin

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  2. Never been to this site before. Never had much interest in Cisco. But now this will be my next investment. A lot of companies don’t go very far in the future. You sound like you are the future.

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  3. Video editing in the web browser ? Hope that computer power of common machines can handle that in five years, as better quality video became available.

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  4. Those are some great ideas. Seems like the technology for the water ideas already exists. Would be neat to see how someone puts it into practice.

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  5. Houses and cars are quite expensive and not everyone can buy it. But, personal loans was created to support different people in such cases.”

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  6. thanks! this comes in handy!

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