Changes stretch from devices to laws

For the London Free Press - January 10, 2011 Read this on Canoe

The year 2010 was a significant one for technological innovation. We saw the continued advancement of the smart phone, the rise of the touch screen tablet in the guise of the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the introduction of electric cars that plug into a standard household socket in the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

So what can we expect in 2011? Here are a few things that might be worth keeping an eye on:

Windows Phone 7: Windows Phone 7 is not a physical device like the iPhone but rather an operating system that will be offered on a variety of phones built by various manufacturers. Its features and creative take on the user interface mean Windows Phone 7 will be a strong competitor in 2011.

But with the level of competition in the smart phone marketplace, Windows Phone 7 faces an uphill battle. Its adoption may suffer from a lack of available applications, especially compared to Apple's app store, which has a significant head start in app volume.

Windows Phone 7 sales in Canada will also probably be slowed by carrier lock issues, as most consumers have to wait out the three-year contract with their existing phone before they can upgrade. That is a serious impediment to phone sales in general, compared to the two-year term that is normal in most countries.

Kinect: Kinect is a controller for the Xbox 360 video game console. The Kinect allows users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without using a handheld controller. Essentially players operate the console and play games by using hand gestures and body motions.

The Kinect is selling extremely well. In fact it has become so popular that it was hacked immediately following its release to enable it to be used with PCs and other devices.

Look for the Kinect to receive official support from Microsoft for use with PCs by year end. Controlling computers this way may lead to some interesting applications.

Anti Spam Law: Bill C-28, the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act, has just been passed. It will come into effect sometime this year after its regulations are drafted.

The implications of this legislation for a typical business or organization are not fully clear. The language of the legislation has the possibility to affect how typical businesses communicate, as things that we may not consider to be spam might get caught by the act. Stay tuned for more detailed commentary on this as the year progresses.

Copyright Reform Bill: Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act, is the latest attempt to update the Copyright Act. Controversial elements include digital lock provisions that will allow publishers to trump user rights.

It is likely this bill will become law, unlike the several failed attempts over the past several years.

One certain thing about copyright reform is that the details will make some people happy and will disappoint others, depending on whether one is a consumer or producer of content.