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Indie board game maker Peter Newland points to Kickstarter as one of the key trends for 2012.

What was the most important technology of 2012? It’s a natural question to ask as the year winds down, but we’ve actually been asking it for the entire year, as part of the questionnaire we give to the people we feature as Geeks of the Week.

For a snapshot of the key trends over the past year, we’ve gone back and compiled their responses. Continue reading for highlights, including thoughts on everything from Kickstarter to wireless charging and mobile technologies.

What do you think was the most important technology of the past year?

Ivan Braikerpresident of mobile agency Hipcricket: It has been very interesting to watch the emergence of near field communication (NFC) including the legislation around it and those implications because I think they are pretty broad in reach.

Lauren Bricker: smartphones and mobile technologies. (Photo: Annie Laurie Malarkey)

Lauren BrickerLakeside High school computer science teacher: Smartphones and mobile devices. …  It’s not just my phone, it’s my iPod, navigation system, notepad, camera, something to read when I’m bored, a way to check email, a way to connect with friends and my kids, and an entertainment center for my 12-year old. Thinking beyond that, there are parts of the world where some people only have a cell phone as their Internet platform.   One of the reasons why I so enjoyed teaching mobile development to my advanced students was because they also have to think in terms of the smaller resources (screen size/memory) in those types of situations.

Margo Day, Microsoft vice president of U.S. education: Windows 8

Olly Downssenior vice president of data sciences at Globys: D-Wave One.

Oren Etzioni: Information extraction to map from text to semantics (Photo: Annie Laurie Malarkey)

Oren Etzionicomputer scientist and serial entrepreneur: Information extraction to map from text to semantics.  It’s the key to the future of search. (See his article on this topic in Nature.)

Jeff Faulknercreative director in Microsoft’s Xbox and entertainment division: For me, I still think Kinect is the most important thing. You could look across humanity and say that’s not true, but in terms of what’s central to me, that is.

Mike Foley, former Bluetooth Special Interest Group executive director:  iOS.

Christian Hanssonchief technology officer at Tango Card: Digital delivery of previously physical goods.

Rebecca Gardner: Massive Open Online Courses. (Photo: Seattle Children’s)

Dr. Rebecca Gardnercancer researcher, Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Massive Open Online Courses. Opening up top-tiered education to anyone with a computer and Internet for free is amazing. Although this began prior to the present time, I feel like 2012 was the year in which it truly came into its own, and has taken off. The more people we can educate, the more collaborators we can have, and the faster we can advance our respective fields.

Jesse Johnston, software engineer, Stratos Product Development: Google’s Project Glass is a fascinating piece of technology. I love the idea of walking around with a HUD showing me information about my surroundings. I’ve spent so much time using HUDs in FPSs, it would be fun to try out in real life.

Eve MalerForrester analyst and XML co-inventor: Open APIs.

Ramez Naam: The smartphone.

Ramez Naamcomputer scientist, science writer and sci-fi author: The smartphone. Did you know that more people worldwide access the internet through their phones than through computers or tablets now?  The phone has turned into the most universal information access device, and it’s changing the whole world.

Peter Newlandindie board game developer: Kickstarter (does that count?)

Shannon RomanoDouble Down Interactive game development manager: Nothing has blown me away this year, although recently a friend of mine turned me on to the Google Goggles and I’m totally geeked out on those.  I want a pair! I also love the retina display for the iPad.

Archana Somasegar: Touch technologies. (Photo: Annie Laurie Malarkey)

Archana Somasegaradvocate for girls in developing nations: The progression of touch has been significant over the past few years. I am fascinated with surface computing and with touch devices. It’s definitely revolutionary.

Fernd van Engelenindustrial design leader at Artefact: mobile (still)

Kevin Wangfounder of Technology Education And Literacy in Schools (TEALS): Tablets, tablets, tablets, tablets.

Melissa WinstanleyUniversity of Washington computer science standout: Mobile technologies.

Weilie Yiprincipal scientist at location analytics startup Placed: 7-inch tablets are the most important current technology.  I don’t enjoy taking both my phone and my tablet everywhere. 4 inch smart phones are too small for reading, especially on a bus.  With a 7-inch tablet, I can still make calls without looking too crazy but it’s still big enough to watch videos and read the news.

Maria Zhang: Wireless charging and power.

Heidi Yustartup entrepreneur and ‘chic geek’ accessory designer: Voice command functions on mobile devices.

Maria Zhangsoftware engineer and startup founder: I think 2012 was more about a lot of evolutionary tech changes. I’m excited about how wireless charging has made a lot of commercial strides this year. I’m hoping this is the start of a trend towards wireless power and gadgets that aren’t handicapped by the need for a large battery.

Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive and submit our online questionnaire to apply.

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