NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — The year 2020 will look as different from 2014 as 2014 looks from 2006.

Back then your cell phone was just a phone, your computers all ran Windows and broadband was something that plugged into the wall. Today, of course, we have phones that double as Internet devices, we have tablets without keyboards, we have ubiquitous WiFi.

The world of 2020 will see that WiFi turned into a platform for applications, something I was writing about nearly a decade ago. It will see cars making huge strides toward driving themselves and home entertainment that follows you around.

Just as it was possible to buy a WiFi router in 2006, even a tablet computer, the tools of this new age are already with us, and you can buy many of them now.

WiFi Everywhere

Many products today will extend your WiFi coverage to every corner of your property, and shape that traffic to suit your needs and no one else's. WiFi, in the end, is just a radio, a radio tuned to specific frequencies, at a specific power, to send-and-receive data. The rules for it are set by the government, but implemented into equipment. Bluetooth is also a radio, just one with a shorter range, using less power.

A WiFi extender, like one I just bought from Netgear , plugs into the wall, costs less than $80 and sets up in minutes. Thanks to this device I can watch Amazon movies from anywhere in the home, not just next to my computer.

But as you network your home, you also start doing network management. WiFi Shaper software lets you limit devices to just the bandwidth they need, which keeps hackers from turning your fridge into a spambot . Don't let hackers turn your fridge into a spambot.

These are the first step toward making WiFi a true platform. Making sure it goes everywhere, and making sure you can secure it, are the keys to happiness in the year 2020.


There are two kinds of Radio Field Identification (RFID) technology. Active tags have little radios in them. Passive tags act much like bar codes, except your radio may reach them.

Many stores already use passive RFID, because it makes inventory easier. They cost a little more than bar codes – 7 to 20 cents each -- but they're worthwhile for things like drugs and electronics. A reader powers the tag. There is usually about 2,000 bytes of data on them, plenty of room to identify something, and read-only tags can't be rewritten. Once your phone has Near Field Communication (NFC) capability (many Android and Windows phones do, Apples don't) it can also act as an RFID reader.

Now, just slap RFID tags on your keys, your wallet, your TV remote, glasses and anything else that tends to get lost, track which tag goes to what, and when you lose them, the phone can find them. If we're just talking about electronic devices, like your Android phone, you don't even need RFID – there's already an app for finding that, wherever it may wander .