Our lives have come to be defined by an ever-increasing advancement into the virtual world. What was thought to be the stuff of fiction but a handful of years ago has now become a reality. The days of dial-up access have been replaced by wireless technology, smartphones and the ability to download gigabytes of data within minutes. What is more interesting is that this technology is advancing faster than ever before and many predict that we will soon be able to enjoy gigabyte-speed access to the Internet. Indeed, The Guardian has recently brought this to the attention of the consumer by highlighting a recent study that was put forth by the Pew Research Center and Elon University. So, how can we expect our lives to change within the next ten years?
One of the most profound impacts will likely occur in the corporate world. Although we already enjoy light-speed communications with individuals from across the globe, we can expect these amenities to markedly advance. Such features as holographic interfaces, seamless software integration and the ability to literally “share” whiteboards with other members will vastly improve the ways in which business is performed.
The Three-Dimensional Edge
It seems that the famed “Holodeck” from Star Trek is closer than we think. In the not-so-distant future, we can experience a three-dimensional immersion into the virtual world (some tout Google Glass as the forerunner of this concept). We will be able to “walk” through an online store, see a real representation of an apartment before it is rented and place ourselves within our favourite movies and video games.
A Wealth of Sensors
We are already exposed to many real-time sensors that transmit data into the virtual world. The two most common examples of these can be seen as smartphones and GPS systems. Thanks to speeds reaching gigabytes per second, this array of personal sensors is likely to dramatically increase. These can include environmental devices within our homes, sensors on our clothes and even sensors within our bodies (enabling a doctor to monitor our health, for instance).
We are all aware that fibre optic broadband has already drastically altered the ways in which we learn. We can now participate in virtual language sessions within the cloud and a number of distance-learning universities have already entered into the mainstream world of education. In the future, it is likely that traditional schooling will become more decentralised and we will primarily learn remotely. While this may cut down on the need for teachers, many feel that if approached correctly, students can immensely benefit from this novel source of information.
So, the age of gigabyte communications is nearly upon us. Although this would have appeared all but impossible during the nostalgic 1980s, such a reality is creeping forward as every month passes. If only some of these predictions come true, there is no doubt that our world will be changed profoundly and with any luck, for the better.