Gazing into the Future of Tech

October 1st, 2009 8 Comments

Photo by o palsson from Flickr used under Creative Commons

Photo by o palsson from Flickr used under Creative Commons

There are few things like predictions to spark some discussion, and I found a set of predictions about what everyday technology we won’t be using in a decade on TechRadar (h/t Digg) that I’m sure will produce some discussion.

If nothing else, it’ll get you thinking about the future and you’ll interact with your tech, which is pretty fun too.

Their list of eight redundant devices is pretty solid:

1. Keyboard and mouse, 2. Public wi-fi, 3. Landline phone, 4. Optical disks, 5. Standard game controllers, 6. Desktop PCs, 7. Operating systems, 8. Blogging

Good stuff for discussion. I won’t dissect each device and the reasoning here, but in short, I’m skeptical about 1 and 7 and find the reasoning behind 8 funny, i.e. blogging is supposed to be much more than posting your thoughts and people reading them. I guess someone’s doin it rong, either the bloggers or the readers.

Riffing off the concept of future tech, I thought I’d put some gray matter behind what I’d like to see in the next decade from technology, so what will be there vs. what won’t.

1. The uber set top box
I have far too many boxes connected to my TV–satellite, TiVo, DVD player. When I put a TV in the bedroom over Christmas, the setup had to include those same components, otherwise its utility would have been much lower.

Other people have more connected to their TVs than I do with a game console being high on the list, and it seems like there are new boxes with new functionality that I might want coming out all the time.

There is some convergence, but it’s taking longer than I can stand.

Case in point, I love my TiVos, but they’re both Series 2. So, I can’t get Netflix streamed to them, at least for now. I’ve been using Amazon UnBox on TiVo for years, but their selection is too small. I’ve also heard rumblings that Blockbuster may offer streaming to TiVo.

All I really want is to rent movies from the biggest selection possible and stream them to my TV, without buying yet another box or a new box.

>In the next decade, I’d really love to see convergence onto a single set top box to rule them all–gaming, streamed movies, recorded media movies, TV, DVR, music, all that in a single unit. Sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, considering how many companies and technologies are involved.

So, I’ll settle for a rack-mounting system similar to what you find in a data center with 1U boxes plugging into slots and a single cord from the rack to the TV handling the connections.

If I want to add a service, I buy a 1U box and plug it into the rack. Easy peasy.

2. Everything over the air
I hate cords. They’re a pain that I’d love to avoid in the not-so-distant future.

Dell recently released a laptop that can be charged wirelessly, and I’d love to see the same theory applied to charging USB devices too.

Beyond power, I want to sync my iPhone over the air and send video to my monitor over the air. Same thing for the TV. I hate connecting boxes to my TV; it feels so 90s.

I’m willing to sacrifice speed and clarity to do everything through the air. There are just too many cords in my life.

3. Portable displays
I’ve always thought it would be sweet to have a headset display that showed you what was on your TV as you moved around the house or outside.

Similar to wireless headphones, the signal would stream over the air to your wearable display so you could watch TV in other rooms. I guess this is marginally useful if you have a DVR, but it works for adding TVs to other rooms without all the trappings discussed in my first idea.

If you coupled the uber set top box (or TV rack) with this, you could put a TV in every room without any of the wires. Add tuners to split the incoming signal, and each display can watch something different.

So, what do you think about these? Turns out they all work together to create my awesome home of the future, with 95% fewer cords.

I had five, but I trimmed the list to three. The two that didn’t make the cut didn’t seem terribly awesome after a while. What about the eight from TechRadar? Have anything to add?

Find the comments.


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8 Responses to “Gazing into the Future of Tech”

  1. Norman G Says:

    #1 totally agree – add on a Slingbox and its associated devices and it balloons even more.

    #2 cords are the bane and would willingly sacrifice a lot to eliminate them.

    #3 not really seeing it. If I could stream and charge over the air I would have panels everywhere I wanted. We move from wearable to all devices being basically a screen. Refrigerator door – would not have one of those dinky little pcs in them that go obsolete – the door just becomes a lcd touch screen.

    Not seeing OS and blogs going away. Maybe they morph and they become called something else, but the basic component remains. There will always be something underlying and controlling the infrastructure. Call it what you will. Same with blogging – blogs, micro-blogs, texting, whatever. People will be “writing” about what they are doing. Whether its on a piece of paper, typing in a computer, verbally telling it to a voice activated device, etc. it really doesn't matter. You want to call it a newspaper, a blog, a whatever the concept remains the same and persistent over time – people want to tell others what they think. In reality the first newspaper was essentially a blog, they just didn't know it. Another person ahead of their times.

  2. joel garry Says:

    Catalina did not convert to dial phones until 1978.

    I think the backlash against things like computerized throttles having stupid fail modes in automobiles may bring in some amount of Luddism.

    I think I recall reading Bill Gates house has follow-you-around video. I already have glasses, I don't want more crap on my head. I thought I had already seen wireless glasses displays… stupid intellectual property laws grumble…

  3. Jake Says:

    Re. #3, I started out thinking about this as wearable, then headed in the direction you went, i.e. any surface as a display. Maybe the headset is like the projector and maybe it's not wearable :) I think you see where I'm going here.

    I don't really get why OS is on that list. They're talking about a Chrome OS netbook combo, i.e. the mondo browser does it all, but even so, the underlying OS won't be trivial. Adding blogging to the list seems like a last minute throw-in for effect.

  4. Jake Says:

    What did they have on Catalina before dial phones? Imagine that infrastructure project. The utilities must have special permits for their trucks like Avalon Fire does. I don't recall seeing any PG&E golf carts.

    I love the mobile video idea, and I'm rethinking wearable. Maybe it's a transmitter, low profile. Needs some thought, but I still want it.

  5. joel garry Says:

    They had “number please?” operators!

    Any large scale upgrade in a mass utility is going to have problems. Wireless is already saturated (blame the iPhone!) in many places, as are many types of satellite mediated tech, and community wifi or similar has a long way to go before it is working consistently. There was a problem for a while (may still be, I don't know) of cell tower equipment being stolen and shipped off to third world countries, 'cause stuffing in a cell system is easier than hardwiring.

    Personally, I'm not willing to sacrifice speed or clarity for wirelessness. I'm currently upset at how much time I have to spend to keep wife and kid connected – it should be no time at all! I keep as much hardwired as I can at home. (Part of the problem is my house is bigger than most). I would be entirely glad to get rid of cords, but it would have to work invisibly and reliably. Don't see that happening for a long time, most especially the reliability part – heck, plain old power spikes can (and have) kill my dishwasher and oven, incommunicado as they are.

    I was also thinking any surface display, but had to run off to catch a train before I could write that.

  6. joel garry Says:

    “Is Grandma's electrocardiogram going to get delayed because Billy is watching a YouTube video?”

    “…the government is tripling the amount of spectrum available for commercial uses. The problem is that many industry experts predict wireless traffic will increase 30 times because of online video and other bandwidth-heavy applications. “

    But it'll all get done somehow.

  7. Jake Says:

    Agreed, the crowded spectrum is a problem for my vision of the future. Maybe my home will need one of those signs that warns people with pacemakers.

  8. Jake Says:

    Agreed, the crowded spectrum is a problem for my vision of the future. Maybe my home will need one of those signs that warns people with pacemakers.

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