Cisco chief futurist Dave Evans envisions a world in which a bathroom mirror can provide personal data we now visit a doctor to obtain. The mirror could measure things like pupil dilation, skin temperature, pulse and blood pressure. And monitoring health data continuously, rather than at annual checkups, better positions doctors to identify and treat potential problems more effectively. Coupled with expected breakthroughs like genome sequencing in mere hours and creating replacement organs using 3D printers, it is conceivable that lifespans could one day reach several times what they are today.

And this is just a small view of what the future could look like, according to a report in Information Week, which states that the declining costs of adding computing power and Internet connectivity to everyday objects will become more prevalent than we can now imagine. "The marginal incremental cost to adding connecting or computing power is getting smaller and smaller. Even if you don't know what you're doing with it today, you add it," said Cisco CTO of emerging technologies Guido Jouret.

Next generation technology is also expected to ratchet up the value of images by increasing the amount of information that can be gleaned from them. In one example, higher resolution security cameras will serve not just as more effective surveillance, but also allow retailers to gather demographic information on customers, evaluate in-store advertising and adjust staffing levels based on parking lot capacity.

As the types and quantity of data being collected increases, futurists agree that the value of the data scientist will continue to grow.