Posted by: crudbasher | November 29, 2011

The Invisible Computer

When I was in highschool in the late 1980s, I was a bit of a computer nerd. Ok, I still am but that’s off topic. 🙂 I remember I played this computer game called Falcon 3. It was a flight simulator that required some fairly intensive computer tweeks to get running. For example, it needed 603k of ram to work. Since base ram was limited to 640k at the time (thanks Bill Gates), I had to do some interesting tweeks to get enough free ram. I understood IRQs, and EMM386. I had a special 10k mouse driver and multiple config.sys and autoexec.bat files.

Does all that sound like greek to you? That’s because computers have gotten much much easier to use over time. This trend is continuing. An iPhone is a computer but you don’t need to see the “guts” of the operating system. Now, it’s a bunch of pretty settings screens. With a Mac or PC you can still do some tinkering but you really don’t need to these days.

In the future, computers will gradually merge into our surroundings. This will be driven by two factors.

1. When all of our digital “stuff” is in the cloud, then it won’t matter what computer we use. We will have a computing environment in every room we enter. Our digital persona will transfer seamlessly from one screen to the next.

2. Computers will continue to get smaller and cheaper. Most people don’t really appreciate the drop in computing prices over the last 20 years. They see that computers this year cost about the same as the ones last year they are just newer. This is true, but you have to realize that this year’s models are twice as fast as last years, therefore you are getting double the performance for your money. Alternatively, you can buy smaller computers such as an iPad for less than half the price of a regular computer.

All indications are this trend will continue. In 10-15 years I think we will be surrounded by computers at all times but they will be just a part of the surroundings.

The implications for education are huge. You will be able to find out anything at anytime. Learning will finally be on demand, for as long as you want. I still think we are about to enter a golden age of learning.

Here’s a cool video which shows how we might use embedded computers.

    • GigaOM’s recent RoadMap conference in San Francisco featured a number of thought-provoking speakers on the topic of the future of technology, including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, venture investor Mike Moritz and former Sun Microsystems founder Andy Bechtolsheim. While many views were expressed, one thread that ran through many of the different presentations, from mobile and design to health and communication, was the idea that successful technology involves making the computer invisible to the user, even as it becomes more powerful.
    • it doesn’t take much to think about combining voice technology, like the kind Apple has in Siri, with the kind of processing power we have now to create a computer that uses any available surface (a wall, a mirror, etc.) as a screen.
    • companies of all kinds are going to have to adapt to this ubiquitous computing environment, both by making their products as noncomputer-like as possible (something Apple has always excelled at) and by taking advantage of the intelligence and connectivity being built into even the smallest objects around us.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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