Pocket-sized computers of immense power. Augmented reality heads-up displays. Graphical interfaces manipulated purely by touch.
Just a few short years ago, these ideas were the purview of science fiction stories, impossible visions of a hyper-technological future. Today? These ideas are visions of Thursday.
It can be easy to forget, when we’re completely immersed in technology on a daily basis, just how fantastical some of our day-to-day activities used to seem. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
If you take a look at the computers in, say, the Star Trek series, there’s not a mouse or keyboard to be found. All of the futuristic displays and interfaces are completely seamless, with the keys and buttons appearing directly on the display and responding to a simple touch. Or remember the “wow” moment of the 2002 film Minority Report, when Tom Cruise deftly manipulates information on multiple screens using only touch and gestures.
What once seemed fantastical is now one of the most common interactions we have today. The release of the first iPhone® in 2007 showed that touch interfaces weren’t just possible, they were the future; today, smartphones, tablets and even desktops and laptops are embracing touchscreens and gestures to power more intuitive user interaction.
The World in Our Pockets
My all-time favorite novel is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The eponymous guide is described thusly:
“It looks rather like a largish electronic calculator. It has about a hundred tiny flat press buttons and a screen about four inches square on which any one of a million “pages” could be summoned at a moment’s notice . . . The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitch hiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in.”
In short, the Guide is an interstellar hitchhiker’s companion, functioning as “the standard repository of all knowledge is wisdom.”
Our smartphones are more or less the Hitchhiker’s Guide made real. Through sites like Google and Wikipedia, you can learn anything about anything in a matter of seconds.
Communicating Across Interstellar Distances
Whether it’s the viewscreen on the Starship Enterprise or Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine communicating over hologram on the Death Star, face-to-face communication across great distances has long been a hallmark of sci-fi. While video conferencing dates as far as back as the early 20th century, the technology has only recently evolved to a point of making face-to-face video high-quality, portable and accessible.
We may not quite have our holograms yet, but at the rate technology is advancing, who knows how we’ll collaborate in five or ten years? Until then, enjoy a little future tech of your own and subscribe to PGi’s Flipboard magazine “The Future of Business Collaboration” to stay abreast of all the scifi tech trends in business today.
Photo Credit: Open Exhibits