predicts the future
imagine future technology, we envision better versions of what we already have.
But changes will sweep away almost all the products we use today. Mike Elgan
Ten years ago, there was no phone, Android
phone or anything like it. The original iPod was brand-new, and there was no iTunes.
There was no Xbox, YouTube, Flickr... Google was a search engine. Google Mail,
maps, Docs, Calendar, Voice, Talk, Reader and the like didn’t exist.
In fact, virtually every aspect of
today’s consumer electronics was non-existent or beyond the imagination. So
what will life be like in another 10 years?
Office Labs is a Microsoft think tank.
It comes up with working concepts, many of which would require technologies and
computing power that aren’t yet available. The researchers create
special-effects- laden videos and demos to communicate ideas.
In Microsoft’s vision of the future,
connected computers and displays are built into everyday objects. A woman’s
glasses whisper real-time translations of a foreign language in her ear. A
coffee cup shows the drink’s temperature and has a display that indicates how
high the liquid is inside. An electronic newspaper is as thin and flexible as
paper, but functions like an e-reader.
A businessman uses a clear-glass
display that’s controlled with a touchscreen and gestures. Both display and
touch input devices look like clear glass until they come to life with
gestures. In some scenes, touch gestures become in-air gestures, as they extend
beyond the screen.
Onscreen buttons, dials and other
controls appear as needed, then vanish when no longer required. A clear-glass
stylus is also used, suggesting a role for a pen. Keyboards are depicted, but
there’s a lot less typing in this future - It’s replaced with voice assistance
See-through glass displays are ideal
tar augmented reality. A mobile version is held up to a green plant, which is
visible through the glass. The device recognises the species, and offers up
information about it onscreen. The window of a taxi also turns into an
augmented-reality screen, painting out to the passenger the building where her
meeting is scheduled to take place.
In many cases, surfaces that used to
hold analogue information tools themselves replace the tools. Instead of a
whiteboard mounted on a wall, the wall itself is now a digital whiteboard.
Instead of a tablet on a table, the table is the tablet.
In one scene, two businesspeople each
place a smart object on a smart table - a key fob and a flat phone or smartcard
of some kind. Data spills out from these devices, and can be manipulated on the
table. Data and documents can be transferred from anything to anything else.
One example involves a drag-and-drop gesture from a desktop to a mobile device,
while the same mobile device later becomes a virtual keyboard for a desktop
Another example shows a man using a
gesture to capture data using a clear-glass remote control, then moving that
data from a wall-mounted device to his e-newspaper.
A smartphone is a card-like gadget s
thin that a woman uses it as a bookmark. This card function as a boarding pass,
an airport map, a calendar, an augmented-reality window, a 3D holographic
display and more.
The phone splits into two halves about
the size of playing cards, with one displaying live video and the other held up
to the ear for video conferencing. It even projects some kind of laser beam
arrow on the ground, telling MR Future Businessman where to go.
Everything we’ve described is being
worked on, refined and developed. If you follow current trends for computer
power, display technology, networking speeds, device miniaturisation, flexible
displays, touchscreens, gesture technologies and others, you get this Microsoft
The intelligent displays are advanced
versions of what’s already possible with Microsoft Surface. The in-air gestures
are advanced versions of what we already see in Kinect for XboX 360. Displays
are getting bigger, while devices are getting thinner and lighter. We already
have clear displays and augmented-reality systems. The past four years later
ushered in thin tablets supporting gestures and intelligent voice technology.
The next 10 years?