Forecasting from the Tesla

September 15, 2013

C and I were driving to the beach yesterday and started talking about the future of technology. We don’t normally do this, while we will talk about clients in our off time, we don’t just gab about tech so this was special.

Here are some of the things we decided while driving about:

  1. Virtual reality is neat and it is really, truly, finally coming. I’ll be able to put on a helmet and see a different world, be able to put virtual objects in places and move through them instead of working in a two dimensional environment. Our brains are wired for this: we are supposed to live in a 3D world. When this happens, the whole world will accelerate (again) as we share our mindscapes with other people. Motion sensitive people beware (that would be me, I get carsick just by thinking about being in a car).
  2. Augmented reality, where you see the real world with information overlaid on it, is also coming. The physical world will become a playground, mashed up with our mental models. Google glass is dorktastic but only the start.
  3. To get AR and VR to really work, we need to interact with the items that are not really there. Haptic feedback must come soon, driven by the virtual environments. C wants a glove that will make him believe he is holding a tennis ball when he is wearing an Occulus Rift VR headset. We talked about balance muscle wires, small solenoids (to put pressure on the fingertips), and those bed of nails things you see at museum stores with actuators.
  4. The iphone’s new 64 bit architecture is strange and interesting. Why does it need that much computing power? What purpose does it serve?
    1. First, the oomph will make it more usable as an enterprise (and government) device. It has three factor authentication now (something you have: the phone; something you know: a password; something you are: your fingerprint… and probably your voiceprint).
    2. The new iphone 64 bit architecture is on the path to the phone replacing computers. Now all they need is a generic dock (one for work, one for home) that has a keyboard and display. Then all your computer information comes and goes with you, all the time. No more laptops. No more computers. Your phone is everything, including your ID.
    3. Finally, the additional iphone computing power comes into play as a game console (like Wii, Playstation, even PCs). Add a game controller, plug the iphone into your TV, and have a serious physics engine simulate a system with intelligent agents.
  5. Energy harvesting is neat. We used to have it with solar powered calculators but now our devices are too powerful (and power hungry). The harvesting technology is coming, probably over the next five years. I think it will hit consumers in augmentation of battery devices (making them last longer), not eliminating batteries entirely. We agree that energy harvesting is more interesting in small, pervasive devices; it is less interesting in large scale energy generation where more traditional sources will continue to improve (e.g. wind, solar).


We’ll see how these turn out. And what are we missing?