Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Future of Computing

Technology is progressing at an exponential rate. Just a few short years ago, we geeks salivated over the next generation processor that would calculate a large spreadsheet in mere seconds. The 5 megahertz 8086 processor led to the 286 which led to the 386, 486, Pentium, and now we have four 3200 MHz processors on a single chip! Incidentally, those old 8086 processors still power the guidance computers on our nation’s space shuttles. NASA recently had to buy some replacement processors from eBay because Intel stopped manufacturing them long ago. This about that next time you hop in a space shuttle.

So where do we go from here? What’s around the next corner? What’s the next Big Thing? I labored a few hours away in the ‘Net to bring you a glimpse of some exciting new technologies that will be making their way into our computers (and perhaps into our brains!) in the very near future.
On my hip right now is a tiny computer (called an iPhone) so powerful that it can access almost all the knowledge that mankind has seen fit to digitize in a matter of moments. To access this instant knowledge all I have to do is speak a search phrase into the microphone. Right now, the device fits in my palm. 10 years from now, it will almost surely fit discretely inside my ear or perhaps even inside my head.

Electronics giant Sony recently patented a technology which could one day send sound, sight, smell and taste directly into our brains. This technology uses ultrasonic pulses aimed at specific areas of the brain which induces the sensory feelings. Another existing technology on the market right now allows quadriplegics to play videogames, control robotic arms, and turn a TV on and off, using only their minds. A professor at MIT recently demonstrated a computer that can vocalize your words without actually speaking them.

Google is working on a project call Augmented Reality. You’ve seen the cartoon-ish representations of streets as you travel using a GPS, right? Imagine that but instead of cartoon images you see actual digitized images of the actual streets and buildings as you pass by.

Now, if you combine augmented reality with the ability to input information directly to your brain, speak to your computer, control it with your brain and our propensity to share our personal information on Facebook, what you have is a glimpse of a wondrous future that makes a geek like me drool all over himself. Imagine walking down the street and spotting someone vaguely familiar. You’ll be able to mentally click a virtual icon floating above the person’s head that reveals their name and Facebook profile.

Computer implants will allow us instant access to information just by thinking about it. We will no longer have to remember appointments and important dates because it will all be stored somewhere on the ‘Net and accessible just by thinking about it. Heck, perhaps I will even be able to remember my wife’s birthday.

1 comment:

Cole said...

Dont forget, NASA just levitated a mouse too.