The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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January 1, 2014

After a blah 2013, new year brings clearer images on future of technology

Tech enthusiasts didn't have much to cheer about in 2013.

There wasn't a lot of jaw-dropping or game-changing technology introduced. Instead, it was a year in which old guard companies, such as BlackBerry, Microsoft and Intel, struggled to remain relevant, set new goals and looked for new leadership. Newer companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, matured — at least enough to make some money — but still haven't proved they have a long-term business plan.

And it was a year that brought questions about consumer privacy and security to the forefront, with high-profile data breaches and revelations about surveillance programs at the National Security Agency.

In short, 2013 was a year that raised a lot of questions but provided few answers. Analysts say 2014 could be when the rough sketches about the future of technology, and how it affects our lives, get fleshed out.

Here are the areas of tech to watch in 2014:

Wearables:

Technology has become a part of our daily lives, but 2013 showed the promise of what could happen if it becomes part of our bodies.

From our socks to our glasses, tech companies have found ways to add sensors to everyday items that turned them into mini computers. Fitness trackers and Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which can take photos and answer phone calls, showed consumers the potential of wearables.

Companies are "increasingly putting consumers at the center of a host of digital technologies, devices and services," said John Curran, a managing director at Accenture.

And there's far more expected in the pipeline. The Google Glass headset, which pushes users' smartphone alerts to a screen hovering just above a user's eye, is expected to see a wide consumer release in 2014.

Analysts also expect Apple, which has yet to offer even a whisper about a wearable device, to release a smartwatch of its own sometime this year.

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