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Blog > Predicting the future is hard, part 4

>> Predicting the future is hard, part 4

Sun, Mar 8th 3:12pm 2009: Tech Toys

From: Luke Sparke <**********>
To: [Internal IVT staff mailing list]
Subject: RE: [IVT-Staff] Microsoft vision of future technology
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2009 11:41:50 +1100

Oh, it's on!

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Oxer <jon@ivt.com.au>
Sent: Friday, 6 March 2009 10:49 AM
Subject: RE: [IVT-Staff] Microsoft vision of future technology

> Flying cars are a crock, at least until there's some way to lift them
> that doesn't involve propulsion by physical action-reaction. A 1T
> flying car needs 10,000N of force >to hover which means massive
> backwash or serious burns and damaged hearing for anyone nearby. It's
> a pipe-dream.

Agreed. Need anti-gravity. But you missed the bit about silver suits!

>> Are you saying that it's conservative to expect foldable electronic
>> newspapers,

> Yes. E-paper technology is practical and has been proven in
> small-scale real world trials to work well. Right now costs are high
> but like all technology it will hit a >point where the price reaches
> a sweet spot and suddenly it will be everywhere. It's already been
> used commercially in advertising posters, and for schoolbooks in the
> Netherlands since January 2007.
>
> http://edupaper.nl/inhoud/welcome

The site doesn't even have images loading properly. Forgive me if i'm not convinced this is off-the-shelf ready to go. Also, the internet was supposed to be the death of newspapers. I think Murdoch would disagree.

> Motorola used the same underlying technology in the display of their
> F3 phone released in Nov 2006 because it was super-cheap. The F3 is a
> phone designed to be very durable and cheap, to be sold into 2nd and
> 3rd world countries. Very thin phone (no glass), long battery life,
> and viewable in full sunlight.
>
> Remember the airline ticket in the movie that showed dynamically
> updating information, and the credit card that did the same? Already
> done by SiPix Imaging using this technology:

> http://www.sipix.com/technology/index.html

I have no doubt it can be done, but there's no way its economically viable. Airlines are cutting costs left, right and centre. I'm sure providing passengers with groovy dynamic tickets is the last thing they're about to invest in. Most airlines have difficulty just keeping the aircraft in the air.

>> electronic coffee mugs etc in 10 years?

> Yes. That's easy. We already have things like umbrellas that connect
> to an online weather service and provide visual display of
> predictions.
>
> http://www.ambientdevices.com/products/umbrella.html

Uhem. An embrella with a glowing handle when it's going to rain is hardly a multi touch, internet connected device. Didn't see any way to check the stock reports on the umbrella, nor sync it with my phone. I wonder how many people are buying them anyway. It seems to have the moron factor to me. If you've got your umbrella with you, do you really need it to glow to tell you it's raining? "What, what is this wetness falling on me, hang on, i'll check the umbrella, nope, not glowing, can't be rain".

> On the other hand, I don't see a coffee mug as a very practical
> general purpose display surface! "Hang on, I'll check my email on my
> mug - oops, I forgot it was full".

Agreed, fails practicality test.

> The point is that considering these sorts of developments is
> *thinking* the right way: it's exploring the possibilities of what
> can happen when everyday objects around us >contain computing power,
> sensors, displays, and connectivity.

No argument there. But if it's about thinking what can be done, it's doesn't go nearly far enough. If it's about what will be common place in 2019, it's way off.

>> (It also seems the people in 2019 will be complete morons, requiring
>> arrows pointing them in the direction to go.

> I see that as really useful. Having been through places like Changi
> and LAX, which is so big it has its own postcode, yes, I'd love to
> have a personal head-up navigation >system for just walking around.

Fair enough. I use signs.

>> I don't know what happens if they're in a real airport, with you know,
>> other people, and you can't see the floor for all the other pairs of
>> shoes. Maybe the guy in front of you will have a multi-touch hoodie,
>> with an update on the back that says "follow me").

> Old technology: head-mounted displays. Big, bulky, ugly, proven,
> reliable.
> Current technology: projection glasses. Look like more normal glasses
> but overlay computer imagery onto what you look at. Once these get to
> the point of looking just like normal glasses it will be socially
> acceptable to use them.
> Future technology: contact lenses. Stick em in your eyes and nobody
> will even know you're wearing them, but your world will be augmented
> with additional information. Will they be on the consumer market
> within 10 years? I don't know, probably not.

All lame. I don't wear glasses or contacts. I want the guys hoddie to be a multi-touch screen internet enabled device, that hooks up with my phone, and knows which way he's heading, and knows which way I need to go, and so tells me "follow me". Actually, i don't want that at all. I use signs.

>> When it comes to predictions of the future, they're usually way off.
>> That's because it's hard to predict what hasn't yet been thought of.
>> Instead people just take what we have now and think of how far it
>> can be taken. Predictions of the future from 10 years ago completely
>> missed social networking.

> True, predicting the future is hard, but it's still fun to try!

It's even more fun pointing out failed predictions!

>> And finally, does anyone actually want computers to work that way?
>> Looked like a lot of effort to me, having to reach up to the screen
>> and move stuff around all the time. In fact, in a reality, what
>> purpose would it even serve? The only reason I would ever need to
>> move anything on the screen would be to scroll, and reaching up to the
>> screen to do that, rather than just spinning the wheel on my mouse,
>> would be prohibitively annoying.

> Yes, interfaces that require large physical movements aren't very
> practical.

You're not doing your argument any favours.

> A lot of "inventing" though is really just about trying things and
> getting unexpected consequences. The interesting thing is not specific
> technologies, it's the unexpected things people use those technologies
> for. Some things work as intended, some sound good in theory or when
> portrayed in a movie but aren't practical, and some things end up as
> something completely different but still cool.

>> So, I say not a snowflakes chance we'll see that in 2019, and would be
>> willing to place a wager as Jeff did with Andrew regarding "All
>> software being online" - the deadline for which has now past.

> Let's make it specific! What exactly has to come to pass (or not) by
> 2019 to decide the wager, who arbitrates, and what stakes shall we
> set?

You already made it specific, that the video is "conservative", which means that at the very least we'll have everything they show, with far more. That's the wager. That by 2019, everything in the video will be common place, coffee mugs, airline tickets, arrows on floor, everything. The stakes... An internet fridge!

However, I'm reminded of high school when a friend bet me $20 in year 7 that by the time we left in year 12 an apple tree would have grown where we used to meet each lunch time. See, every lunch time we would stomp our apple cores into the ground, so he figured that by the time we left, what with all those seeds being pummelled into the ground, surely a tree would grow. I never got my $20. Of course, that was an even wager, $20 either way. If i'm right, then internet fridges will probably be vapourware and you'll have to spend a fortune to get one, if i'm wrong, then it will probably be hard to find a fridge that's not internet enabled, and i'll be able to pick up something off ebay for $50. Might need different stakes.

There is one prediction in that video I have no doubt will be common in 2019, gardens on rooftops. With the environmental hysteria that's around, i'm sure things like that will be commonplace, in fact, forget head mounted displays, we'll probably all be walking around with pot plants on our heads, doing our bit to "save the planet". If your comment about it being too conservative was about the insanity of these green ideas, then I agree, and the bet is off.

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