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Top Tech 2012

IEEE Spectrum’s prediction of the tech that will make news this year

2 min read
Special Report
IEEE Spectrum

graphic top tech 2012

Illustration: Carl DeTores

Predict the next century and you can fantasize; predict the coming decade and you can wax enthusiastic. But if you’re looking at just the next 12 months, you’d better keep your feet on the ground. That’s what we’ve done in this year’s tech survey: In choosing our subjects, we considered mainly the likelihood of their figuring prominently in the coming year’s tech headlines, not whether we thought—or hoped—the technologies themselves would succeed.

A case in point is extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography: It has been promoted for more than 15 years as the best way to sustain Moore’s Law, and this is the year it’s expected to reach the make-or-break point. We can’t tell you whether it will win or lose, but in either case, the result will be big news in Silicon Valley—and beyond.

gradient rule

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Good-bye, Wheelchair, Hello Exoskeleton
This year, the Ekso Bionics exoskeleton for paraplegics hits the market
By Eliza Strickland

icon ICs

3-D Chips Grow Up
In 2012, 3-D chips will help extend Moore’s Law—and move beyond it
By Rachel Courtland

icon plug in vehicles

Plug-in Vehicles Proliferate
Full battery-electric and hybrid-electric plug-in vehicles will start hitting the streets in significant numbers later this year
By David Schneider

icon windows 8

Windows 8: A Redo From Redmond?
The 2012 release of Windows 8 will show whether Microsoft can surf the tablet tidal waves
By Steven Cherry

icon LED bulbs

LED Bulbs for Less
In 2012, there will finally be a first-rate LED bulb you can afford
By Richard Stevenson

icon bionic eye

Birth of the Bionic Eye
In 2012, electrodes will bring eyesight to the blind
By Eliza Strickland

icon planet

Single Blue Planet Seeks Same
In 2012, a new exoplanet hunter will look for worlds like our own
By Rachel Courtland

icon battery grid

A Battery as Big as the Grid
2012 could mark the arrival of utility-scale battery storage
By Jean Kumagai

icon EUV

EUV Faces Its Most Critical Test
2012 will be the make-or-break year for extreme ultraviolet lithography
By Katie M. Palmer

icon 4G

Fantastic 4G
Hundreds of telecoms will invest in 4G LTE networks in 2012
By Marisa Plumb

icon private spaceflight

Private Spaceflight: Up, Up, and Away
This year, commercial spaceflight will really take off
By James Oberg

icon EV

Charge of the EV Brigade
2012 will test the feasibility of EV charging stations
By Lawrence Ulrich

icon china

China’s Homegrown Super-computers
In 2012, China’s chips will power the Dawning 6000
By Joseph Calamia

icon 3D

3-D Printing Takes Shape
In 2012, 3-D printing technology will go from prototyping to production
By Paul Wallich

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