Predictions for the future of the home and immersive technologies


Connected Home magazine’s January/ February issue has a feature article titled Beyond Tomorrow, based on a presentation I gave at the Influence conference on Six Trends that are Transforming Online (the link has some more detail on what I covered), followed by an interview with me. The intro reads:

“Techno ‘crystal ball gazers’ have got their predictions horribly wrong in the past, but this has not put off one commentator. Ross Dawson puts himself on the line talking to Paul Skelton about ‘immersive’ technology in the automated home of the future.”

Unfortunately the article is not on the web, so below are the parts of the article that directly quote me – the rest of article consists of anecdotes about futurists and references to specific current technologies that illustrate my ideas.

“Rather than dwelling on fantastical ideas, Future Exploration Network chairman Ross Dawson, the best-selling author of Living Networks and the award-winning Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, has made it his business to realistically predict how technology will affect our lives in the future.

Speaking in September at the Media Connect IT industry’s Influence Forum in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Ross said Internet protocol (IP) and home entertainment technology will become a much more immersive experience.

“It is a fascinating question to ask whether technology trends are driving social change, or whether technological development is reflecting social trends. Undoubtedly both are true.

“By accelerating these trends to an extraordinary degree I believe that (the immersive experience) will become a lot more evident over the next five to 10 years.

“This is just one facet of how the online and real worlds will merge almost completely in the coming years.”

Ross, who has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg TV and Sky News, says the online space is being driven by the powerful trends of openness, transparency and accessibility – from open sources through open application programming interfaces (APIs).

“The trend underlying all others in that we will be far more connected, wherever we are. Broadband speeds, while still disappointing in most countries, will continue to increase.

“A good way to judge is when the majority of consumers will have 100Mbps in the home. In Australia, it probably won’t be by 2010, but I would certainly hope it will be by 2014. Gradually Wi-Fi will become pervasive – and hopefully free – in metropolitan areas.

“A key indicator of pervasive access is when car radios become IP-based, as this will indicate there is always good access to the Internet.”

Ross says the very way we access IP content will also evolve.

“The mouse was invented in 1967 and is still the centre of human-machine interfaces. It is also extraordinary that the QWERTY keyboard still dominates the lives of knowledge workers, despite the fact that 80% of the population cannot touch-type, which constrains economic productivity to an enormous degree.

“Voice recognition and response will become widespread. Large-surface interfaces such as the newly announced Microsoft Surface – and then beyond that, gesture and facial expression recognition – will usher in a far more intuitive and three-dimensional way of interfacing with information and images.”

“Consumers have already moved to 24” screens and five-speaker surround sound as standard for gaming. This is just the beginning of what will become completely pervasive environments for media, entertainment and participation.

“Video glasses will become the commonplace method of accessing immersive video where you roam – 3D television without glasses is also a reality and not far from commericialisation.

“While 3D efforts using coloured or polarising glasses will continue for some time, the real future is in providing different images to each eye, as in the Philips’ 3D TV initiatives. It will also be possible to generate realistic 3D images from 2D video.”

“Programs like Second Life already provide a quasi-3D environment,” Ross said.

“But a couple of steps beyond is where we will use video glasses, gloves and other immersive interfaces so that we will experience… being there, rather than seeing ourselves in a virtual world.

“This is inevitable. The only question is when we will get there.”