I’ve always been interested in technology.
One of my fondest childhood memories were the days when my dad would sit me down and teach me about Visual Basic.
Another was the day that my siblings and I saved up the $100 we needed to get a Nintendo (the original NES).
Honestly, since those early days tech has influenced my life to vast degrees, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m constantly speculating about where the field will go next.
Here are a few predictions.
Increased Online/Real Life Interactivity
I’ve been saying for years that the killer app of the so-called Web 3.0 movement will only be half-Semantic Web (which seems to be the aspect that everyone is focusing on). Though important, I think the real game-changer will be the widespread adoption of augmented reality and devices that will allow users to access it.
Augmented reality is essentially a second (or third, or millionth) layer of reality on top of real life. Right now you can download apps on your iPhone that allows you to hold up the camera of the phone to, say, a restaurant, and see more information about that restaurant (phone number, reviews, menu) right there next to the building itself (the tech works using GPS to figure out where you are and where you are looking).
Think of where this technology could go in the next ten years!
I can picture a society where people walk around with bluetooth headsets that also have a screen built-in that is a lens for one eye. This lens shows one or more overlay realities so that you can get additional information about your surroundings.
All of a sudden we wouldn’t be limited to the confines of physical reality in decorating our houses or stores. We wouldn’t have to use so many resources to construct a massive temple or rebrand a trendy club. The real life versions could be relatively spartan, while the online versions could be awash with surrealistic splendor.
And that’s just the beginning. Your device could be set to display information about yourself, so going around in public you could look at someone and immediately know that they like Radiohead and old vampire movies and hummus, too. Better friends them (by walking up and introducing yourself)! Can you say Facebook-killer?
I intentionally used a broad term here because almost all aspects of the biotechnology industry are experiencing massive growth at the moment, and the resulting products are ridiculously cool.
The poster-child of this kind of tech is undoubtedly stem cells. After the whole Bush-debacle that almost completely hamstrung the US’s ability to compete scientifically for many years, we’ve finally managed to gain traction AND not scare the religious folk who had problems with the whole thing.
Already we’re growing all kinds of fun organs and tissues in test tubes, and I don’t think it will be much longer before we’re able to confidently grow back fingers, toes, arms, legs and any internal organ you might be missing.
We’re also able to print skin (no kidding, they actually use a skin printer to do this) to aid burn victims and anyone else who would otherwise have to have a skin graft performed to survive.
And can you say super-humans? There are dozens of interesting drugs being tested, from the so-called Barbie drug to a pill that will supposedly allow you to keep going without sleeping (safely) for weeks at a time. I can’t wait!
The computing industry has been shaken up by the introduction of netbooks and other cheap alternatives to a full-blown system, and that shakeup is going to continue, and not just in their own field. Books, movies, music and all other forms of media will continue to be reinvented based on the new technologies that are becoming available, including the advent of the ‘casual computing’ products (like the forthcoming iPad) that are not meant for serious work, but rather to tech-up your home.
I’m thinking that more and more computers are going to be less monolithically ‘computers’ and more ‘devices’ that are specialized for certain tasks. This will divide the field into the mobile class of devices (cell phones, tablets, etc) and the home/office genre, which will be more like workstations but will likely get more and more specialized (a computer that is just a giant, touch-sensitive screen in the shape of an architect’s table, for instance).
As our ability to cram high-technology into small packages is increasing, we’ll see more and more all-in-one devices, that will not only function as smart phones like we know today, but that will also replace everything in our wallets, our passports, our keys, and just about anything else that you might want to have with you at all times.
The shape that these things will take is up for debate, but there have been a whole lot of interesting mockups making their rounds on the net, and my money is on devices that will somehow be integrated into what you wear (like this device from Nokia). OLEDs (and OLED-replacement technologies) are getting cheaper and cheaper, and this will help make these devices very energy-efficient, sexy and relatively inexpensive.
What do you think? What technologies are you looking forward to? Where do you think the industries will go next?