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Happy New Year, everyone! It’s an exciting start to another year living in the future. We’ve already got tiny, always-connected supercomputers in our pockets. What’s next? Sure, we don’t have our flying cars yet, but it’s pretty amazing how far computing has come and how it’s morphed in ways that even sci-fi didn’t really predict. Those of us who were lucky enough to catch Dr. Michio Kaku’s lecture back in October will recall some of the interesting predictions he made for the next hundred years, but what about 2012?

Right now I don’t have much solid to go on, but in a matter of weeks we’ll be looking at a much clearer picture of what’s coming this year in tech. The annual Consumer Electronics Show will kick off in Vegas next week, giving us a glimpse of some of this year’s upcoming gadgets and technologies. Highlights in the past included the unveiling of blu-ray, all the 3D television crap that the industry keeps pushing, the onslaught of tablets and iPad competitors, and of course the annual ‘who’s got the biggest screen’ pissing contest among TV manufacturers.

What are we in for at the show this year? Expect more of the same – more 3D crap, more tablets, more big TVs. Rumor has it this will be the first widespread demo of 4K TVs in the U.S. This will most likely be labeled as ‘ultra-high-definition’; the current 1080p standard is 1920×1080 (or about 2 million pixels) while 4K is 4096×2304 (or about 9.4 million pixels). Take any announcements with an ultra-high-definition grain of salt, though, because currently the amount of content being distributed in that resolution is next to zero. Hell, most big-screen movie theaters haven’t upgraded to 4K digital projectors.

Next week, we’ll also get the year’s first glimpse at what we’ll be seeing on the highway. The 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit kicks off on Jan. 9. Acura is sending out teasers for the show, and rumor has it they’ll be reviving their NSX supercar. Dodge is bringing back the Dart, Lexus has a fancy hybrid sports car to show off, and the tiny Smart Car is going to release a pickup model (that will most likely look like a landscaping cart). Manufacturers will most likely focus on fuel efficiency (shocker), and it looks like the recent trend of resurrecting old brands instead of developing actual new, exciting vehicles will continue.

Finally, at the end of the month will be the Macworld Expo, which is getting a makeover to appeal more to the ComicCon crowd than the IT department. Don’t expect to hear much from Apple, though, as they haven’t been an active participant in Macworld for a couple of years now. Still, developers and fans will be gathering to hype up all the existing Apple tech and speculate wildly about what the company has in store for 2012. Apple predictions are a dime a dozen these days, so I’ll refrain.

So put away your party hats, pop a couple of aspirin, and start getting excited for 2012 in tech.

Many months ago I said I was looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen in the smartphone arena this year, and if the hardware released at the tail end of 2011 was any indication, we should see some pretty cool devices hitting shelves.

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