While the TMT Predictions 2015–The future in Tech, Media & Telecom report delves into a whole range of areas, it does contain a few insights into how people are making use of technologies and media such as 3D printing in education, eBooks and smartphones.
As Media Access Australia has noted, 3D printers are emerging as a powerful way to improve access to education for students with disabilities due to their ability to provide a literally hands-on learning experience for blind and vision impaired students.
This ability for schools, and potentially every classroom, to one day be able to print out physical versions of everything from bacteria to maps to bones to mechanical parts is something of a new industrial revolution.
“Although 3D printers are unlikely to be the ‘factory in every home’, they may become the factory in every school,” Deloitte’s report reads. “Learning how to use 3D printers (and the software tools needed to operate them) will be like learning woodworking or metalworking for past generations of students: enormously useful for those who will end up using 3D printers in their jobs, and still a positive learning experience for the rest.
“It is still early days, but one study found that hundreds of US primary and secondary schools are already including 3D printers in their annual budgets,” the report states, in a sign of just how fast the technology is catching on.
eBooks and eReaders
Deloitte’s report also takes a look at people’s use of eReaders and eBooks. While the technology transformed traditional print media ten years ago, there are signs emerging that people may be returning to traditional paper-based books. In fact, in some countries the prior growth in sales of digital versions of print books are now plateauing or even declining.
“A decade on from the launch of the eReader, print will dominate book sales even in markets with high digital device penetration,” the report states. “Over 30 percent of Americans own an eReader, over 40 percent have tablets, and ownership of smartphones is likely more than 60 percent by the start of 2015.
“Print is likely to generate the majority of books sales for the foreseeable future: eBook sales volumes have hit a plateau, or seen decelerating growth, in major markets including the US, UK and Canada.”
The report also finds that among younger readers there is still a strong preference for print-based books—despite the increasing use of mobile devices such as tablets in classrooms. It is also suggested that students may have a preference for paper books when it comes to the need to retain knowledge, rather than read for entertainment or other reasons.
The Deloitte report also contains an interesting nugget of information about the growth of smartphone devices.
In a sign of the need to focus on access issues for mobile devices, the company predicts that one billion people will move from standard mobile phones to smartphones during 2015. This translates to total smartphone sales in 2015 of about 1.4 billion.
If we consider that about one person in five has a disability, then that’s an extra 200 million people who may encounter access issues in popular mobile device operating systems like Windows, Android and Apple’s iOS.
If a lesson can be drawn from this, it’s that the need for accessible apps and devices has never been greater and will, for the next few years at least, only grow in urgency.
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