The rapid pace with which we produce new technology means that new industries are created every day, providing ample opportunity for young entrepreneurs to get in on the ground floor. But the paradox of choice can be problem, as the question becomes where to turn and how you should begin.
To simplify your research, here are five areas gathering steam:
1. 3D printing
With the 3D market projected to hit $4.5 billion by 2018, the industry is just ramping up. London-based Makielab developed an innovative system that combines 3D modeling, smartphones and 3D printers to enable kids to build their own toys. MakerBot Industries recently opened up a 50,000 square-foot factory in Brooklyn and just got acquired by competitor Stratasys for $403 million. NASA is sending a 3D printer to space. And then there is Modern Meadow, the company behind 3D-meat printing. With a machine that builds any shape imaginable, 3D printing is screaming endless possibilities.
2. Alternate reality games
Alternate reality games are real-life games built around a digital framework where players use their physical space as a digital playground. Apps like Facebooks Check In and Foursquare encourage users to announce their arrival at various hotspots by gamifying their daily routine. A narrative-driven exploration app, Ingress, turns urban exploration into a spy-fiction cold war between its players. The current market of gamification is at $421 million and is expected to jump to $5.5 billion by 2018, according to a report by Markets and Markets. And with smartphones connected to everybody's hip, it is the perfect tool to gamify everyday tasks.
Narratives are different now. With social media becoming a more viable way of gathering information, sites like Branch and Storify are turning posts, tweets and pics into their own story, creating richer and shareable content.
Video is also evolving. Netflix decided that their original programming no longer needs the serial format and have implemented a supposed nonlinear layout for the latest season of Arrested Development. And sites like YouTube and Vimeo are making it easy for anyone to upload their video narratives.
Then, there's Literature. Recently, Amazon announced it will be launching Kindle Worlds, a service that allows writers to publish fiction inspired by well-known books and television series, like Gossip Girl. If storytelling is your strong suit, now is the time to act on it.
4. Niche social media
Facebook remains the powerhouse but other more-niche social media sites like Pack and Foodie are quickly catching up. With people sharing everything online, connecting to others across social networks and privacy becoming a gray area, data is becoming a huge market -- especially for advertisers. Innovation needs to tap into social media's multi-billion dollar empire and provide tools to connect user information with marketers.
5. Wearable Technology
Google Glass and smartwatches are on the forefront of wearable technology, spurring products to supplement these devices and next generation innovation. Products like Basis track your heart rate and provide real-time suggestions on making your lifestyle just a little healthier. Human Media Lab recently developed a prototype for a shape-changing smartphone by using a thin, flexible material that houses the phones guts.
What do you think the biggest game-changing gadget will be in the next 10 years? Let us know with a comment.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.