This year, we saw Intel, IBM, LG and others jump into the solar market, following a path blazed by Applied Materials two years ago.

Cisco, Freescale and several startups like GainSpan are busy porting wireless chips and equipment originally designed for consumer electronics and computers into smart meters and energy efficient appliances. WiMax, the wireless broadband protocol, is coming to connect homes and utilities.

What will the computer world colonize next? Probably lighting.

Solid state light sources such as LEDs, plasma lights and OLEDs are expected to become popular over the next five to ten years as the price declines and mass manufacturing cranks up. Right now, LEDs are primarily made by the large lighting subsidiaries of conglomerates, like Philips Lighting. The nature of the industry and the technology, however, is opening the door to PC-centric companies.

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