Crystal balls and calendars: A look back, and forward, at the top tech news

The president election. Holiday shopping. How we fight terrorists. They were all impacted in 2012 by technology. And what does the future hold? Consider new technology spreading quickly to emerging countries, or consumers in the developed world spending a lot more of their hard-earned money on new tech? And definitely look for the further growth and development of miniature tablets with high-resolution screens measuring 8 inches or less. And even though 2012 was undoubtedly an enormous year for the evolution of technology, don't expect the continuing expansion of tech to slow in the coming year. Here, then, is a closer look at 2012's biggest tech stories, with some forecasts on where tech is headed in 2013.

Obama's grip on election tech

Technology showed off throughout the 2012 presidential election and Pres. Barack Obama benefitted as a result. Counting on a high-tech get-out-the-vote tech project, dubbed Narwhal, Obama managed to target his campaign to those voters whom he most needed. Narwhal also excelled at getting in contact with Obama's core voters, a voting base that many pundits doubted would rush to the polls in high-enough numbers to steer Obama to victory. The pundits, famously, were wrong. Obama won in an Electoral College romp, thanks to strong turnouts among young and minority voters, the same voters that campaign staffers frequently contacted through the Narwhal program. Romney boasted his own high-tech voter-contact system, Project Orca. Orca, though, famously failed. The system even went down on election day. The achievements of Narwhal as well as the failure of Orca isn't the reason why Obama was elected into a second term. But Obama's mastery of technology certainly didn't hurt his campaign.

Drones

Technology is changing how the U . S . battles terrorists. Unmanned Predator drones made news headlines this year, especially because their deadly strikes claimed a number of the United State's most-wanted terrorists. The drones, obviously, were never without critics. Some worried they will be employed to spy on law-abiding citizens. Others were concerned that drone strikes routinely kill civilians along with terrorists or other military goals. What's not up for debate, though, is the fact that unmanned drones continue to become a vital weapon in the United States' fight against terror. As drone technology improves, their accuracy and effectiveness stand to increase.

The coming year

What does 2013 hold for tech? Look for consumers to spend even more of their dollars on tech. And this holds true even if a second recession should grip the country. People are becoming accustomed to using the internet and reading e-mail messages on smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices. They're more inclined than ever to invest on the convenience that accompanies mobile technology. Expect, too, to see the popularity of tablets and smartphones only increase. These products already ranked as a number of the hottest of the holiday shopping season. There's no reason to expect this trend will slow in 2013. Finally, don't be surprised to see technology reach an increasing number of emerging nations in 2013. Which is great news: A global tech boom will connect our planet's inhabitants. That can only be a good thing.


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