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« Nanotech Building Blocks | Main | Quantum Computing Comes Closer »

August 29, 2005


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Frankly I didn't find that commentary very informative. The web will be just like today, only more so. I'd rather see people make more concrete predictions and paint scenarios of how the web (and other protocols) may be used in people's lives, even if they turn out to be wrong.

One effect I think many of us feel who work on computers and have instant access to the web much of the day is how disconnected we are when offline. Sometimes I'll be driving or shopping and wonder about something, and it is very frustrating that I can't find the answer instantly. So I think we will see greater integration of web based information into our mobile environment. Cell phones will be improved with better displays, improved input devices and greater bandwidth and connectivity, so we can access the web as easily on the go as we can today when seated at the computer.

Japanese telecom giant DoCoMo has a little movie online showing their vision of the year 201x, http://www.docomo-usa.com/vision2010/ . It's cute and maybe not completely realistic but at least it paints a concrete picture of how technology could affect people's lives.

Tom Craver

I'll make some predictions, just for fun:

Video glasses with solid head motion tracking will become available, probably first for games, then to replace laptop displays, finally for the office. The height of nerdiness will be wearing them while walking around, in augmented reality mode. "Normal" people will only put them on when working/playing alone.

"Normals" will prefer a conversational voice interface, through their cellphone. E.g. snap a picture of a foreign language sign with the cell's camera, press the "GoogleVox" button, and say "Translate that" - and after a second hear the web-based translation service read the sign in your own language. Just ask "Where am I?" if you get lost, and get a map with a "You are here" marker.

"Social browsing" will catch on - visit any website (no special enabling required), and chat (text or voice or 3D or even video) with anyone else who is "there" and using the same social browser service. Or join a group of friends and take turns "driving" - pointing a shared view to different sites - while you yak about it. It may start on cellphones with teens, but migrate to PC browsers and VOIP, then text chat.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Tom, it's only a matter of time before "normals" are using web technology as much as they use cell phones today.

I imagine a set of glasses with integrated camera, display, microphone, earphone, and network. The glasses could be opaque or transparent (for image overlay). The microphone would be the basis of a voice input. The camera might be the basis of gesture recognition and VR navigation, but that may not catch on with the "normals."

A head-mounted information appliance has lots of advantages over a handheld appliance. It leaves your hands free. It's always available. It can tell which way your head is turned, and eventually which way your eyes are turned. It is positioned near your eyes, mouth, and ears.

Here are a couple of possible applications:

If the glasses can turn opaque in spots, then you could set them to block out ads or replace text with translated or annotated text. To do this smoothly would require good head tracking, but micro-accelerometers should be useful there.

You could send voice messages to friends simply by speaking: voice activated audio instant messaging. Maria says, "Tell Chris don't forget to pick up the milk." And then my headset says, "Maria says, 'don't forget to pick up the milk'" with the first two words synthesized and the rest in her voice. You could carry on conversations with a dozen people at once, in a dozen cities around the world. This could be done today. With video-integrated headset, instead of "Tell Chris," it could be "Show Chris" and I'd see (and hear) whatever my friend was looking at.

I'd like to predict that we will be able to carry on natural-language conversations with Google. I hesitate to predict that we'll be doing it within ten years, because I think it relies on technology that doesn't exist yet. Either automated text-to-knowledge conversion, or the web moving beyond un-annotated text--both of which "should" happen sooner than they will.


Tom Craver

Maybe "normals" will get used to it - we're starting to get used to seeing people wandering around apparently talking to themselves (using cellphones with a headset). With video glasses, we'd see them wandering around, apparently seeing and interacting with things that aren't there...

It would help if the front of the glasses were nearly perfectly invisible - made of clear "glass" with an index of refraction very close to air, at least on all edges.

While we may not have full natural language conversations with Google, conversational commands over a limited set of functional domains should be practical - search, define, translate, record, communicate, control, etc. We already have something fairly close for phone airline reservations and other systems.

Dimitar Vesselinov

Blogging in Virtual Reality

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Thanks, Dimitar. I'm not sure I agree that blogs will be based on gaming tech; that sounds more like a chat or maybe podcast than a blog. Thing is, video isn't searchable or time-compressable. It may be that by 2015 it will be, but maybe not; that'd be pretty AI-ish by today's standards.

The article on past and future computing power that was in one of the comments to your post is also worth reading:


If trends continue, in ten years we'll be able to buy 1000 GHz machines (split among tens of cores), terabytes of ram, and petabytes of disk. Who'd need that? Well, in 1996, a "Dream Machine" had a whopping 32 meg of ram and a 2 gig disk.

And the Web is already several petabytes.



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