Most of us who consider ourselves to be technologists are actually quite content with present technology. We love your gadgets and are happy with the latest apps across web/mobile/desktop. Life is good, honestly.
Then, there are the outliers – folks who are just not happy with the present. They keep pushing the envelope and technology benefits the most. It's only when we push ourselves to a change the present, does future start looking brighter.
But here's the big problem with future – it's not here yet. So, ideas and technology that may be commonplace in future, appear to be audacious and out of place at the moment. They can potentially be disruptive, yes, but that's how we get to a better place. This article talks about a few bold ideas today that I believe have the potential to shape our future. Come on future – get here quickly!
The new 12" MacBook is futuristic for sure. To build a full-sized experience in a modern notebook with an incredibly thin chassis, Apple had to re-engineer a lot of the hardware from scratch. The MacBook sports a crisp retina display, a completely re-imagined keyboard, a big track pad with force sensitivity and stacked batteries to last you through most of an average day, all this at just 2 Lbs. The design sophistication and technical advancements in the tiny MacBook are impressive to say the least.
Now the reality is, as much as the new MacBook is forward facing, it treads a fine line between innovation and compromise. To rock a thin silhouette and a fanless silent operation, the MacBook chooses to house the Intel Core M processors. While these chips are incredibly low on power usage, can be hyper-clocked and are good enough for most daily computing, there is no denying that they make the MacBook somewhat underpowered compared to its peers.
Also, the MacBook sports a single USB-C port – that is your only interface to the notebook for any needs. While a standard USB-C port for power/display/data is where the industry may be headed, the reality today calls for having to need several pricey adapters. The MacBook as it stands, isn't for everyone yet, but it is beautifully engineered nonetheless. Maybe it's paving the path for what most notebooks will be like in future.
If you ever thought that augmented reality through holograms is the future of computing, then Microsoft's Hololens is a huge step in the right direction – it blends your real and digital world seamlessly. Hololens is head-mounted with glasses in front and is actually a cordless self-contained Windows 10 computer.
Hololens sports a Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) that allows spatial mapping and gesture/voice recognition, all the while projecting holograms on a high definition 3D display with surround sound. The promise of holographic technology enables application scenarios that are jaw dropping for sure.
As with any upcoming revolutionary technology however, there is usually a difference between the promise and real-world execution. What also remains to be seen is how application developers are shielded from the complexities of spatial holographic technology, as they focus on building compelling experiences. High expectations may be the biggest obstacle Microsoft Hololens has to overcome.
Periscope is a live, interactive video app, now owned by Twitter, which lets you teleport anywhere with a tap. Users can broadcast live video privately to a few people or publicly to the world.
With tight Twitter integration, broadcasting live allows you to instantly notify your followers who can join, comment and send you hearts in real time. So, in essence, you get to experience life and events from another person's viewpoint. Unlike the competition, Meerkat, videos streamed through Periscope can be saved for future viewing – you can capture and stream moments of life as viewed in person.
While Periscope promises to democratize first-person visual experiences, some nagging doubts pull back this vision of the future. Can the cellular networks of today support the kind of bandwidth needed to stream high quality video feeds in real time? Also with the proliferation of smaller wearable cameras like GoPros, capturing streaming video from a smartphone may not be everybody's cup of tea. Maybe this dilemma could be easily solved through more portable versions of the Periscope app, nonetheless, Periscope's vision and potential real-world applications are undeniable.
A healthy mind needs a healthy body and the applications of IoT (Internet of Things) in healthcare have far reaching potential. Smart Rope is an evolution of the classic jump rope to be LED-embedded and connected to your smartphone for an immersive workout experience.
Starting life as a KickStarter project, the Smart Rope sports a unique HUD (Heads-Up Display) on a flexible printed circuit board to keep track of your rope jumps and then surfaces the data through the connected mobile apps. With an open API, Smart Rope leads the way in how technology can power tomorrow's fitness - instant encouragement and gratification.
While undeniably cool, Smart Rope has recently entered active product development, but has yet to solve its mass manufacturing challenges. Folks who have been fortunate to test early iterations of the Smart Rope have come out impressed, but it may take a bit to get used to the blinking LEDs counting your jumps, specially on very well lit or light backgrounds.
Every new application of IoT in healthcare/fitness opens up another channel for data mining and the sheer volume of data can eventually be fed into standardized healthcare platforms like Apple/Microsoft Health. Thankfully, I believe modern fitness related IoT devices are headed down the right path.
A few ambitious engineers at Google are aiming to re-invent the smartphone through Project Ara – a radical modularized phone with swappable components. Instead of a pre-built smartphone that you buy off the shelves today, Google plans to give you an endoskeleton, where you can plug and play interchangeable parts towards your dream smartphone.
The end goal is a smartphone that is highly customizable and has exactly the hardware specs you want. Project Ara aims to free us from our annual cycles of smartphone obsolescence and promises and energetic ecosystem of click-in smartphone components.
The reality of what Project Ara wants to achieve though may just be too futuristic, specially in this day and age of get-rich-quick smartphone apps. While it is allowing us more control over how our smartphone are configured, its success will depend largely on having a rich ecosystem of pluggable components and convincing the general public of the benefits, while still satisfying regulatory laws.
We can either sit back and be content with our present day technology, or get up and shake things up. Sometimes progressive ideas seem awkward in the present, but our future as a technologically advanced society depends on these innovations. So, get here fast, future – we can't wait for you.
Want to hear what's bleeding edge in technology? Come join us for 3 days of awesomeness at TelerikNext conference in Boston next week. Yes, there will be plenty of mobile and IoT sessions, and just a lot of very smart people to geek out on technology. See you there!
Header image courtesy of Keoni Cabral
Sam Basu is a technologist, author, speaker, Microsoft MVP, gadget-lover and Progress Developer Advocate for Telerik products. With a long developer background, he now spends much of his time advocating modern web/mobile/cloud development platforms on Microsoft/Telerik technology stacks. His spare times call for travel, fast cars, cricket and culinary adventures with the family. You can find him on the internet.
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