Here is a video from Microsoft about using the technology in Kinect in other products. (H/T Gizmodo)
One of the biggest changes in computers in the next few years will be they will gain senses similar to ours. IBM has said that in 5 years computers will have all 5 senses. That’s interesting but you really have to dig deep to consider the implications.
Right now the vast majority of information on the internet today was created by a person using a keyboard and mouse (or camera). Once computers can see and recognize objects, they will be able to extract vast amounts of data about the world around them and put it online. Cities like London already have tens of thousands of cameras. Once you couple this with a computer that can see, they will literally be able to monitor everything about your life. It will recognize where you go, what you eat, what you buy, how long you spent looking at advertising, you name it. This will all go into a database and privacy will be finally dead.
Technology like this will permit autonomous robots and drones. There is a lot of controversy about drones for law enforcement work but they are all being flow remotely by a pilot. It’s no different in my mind that a police helicopter but most people don’t realize that. In this new future drones will be watching and identifying criminals themselves. Military drones will fight our wars for us (which is a very scary concept). Unfortunately that will enable tyranny. Dictators around the world always have to worry about keeping their military loyal to them, and even then there are some tasks the military would balk at. Not so with drones and robots.
Ok that is kind of depressing, let me cheer you up a bit. This ability to understand the world around them will enable smart toys. These are a new class of device I see coming which will be companions to small children. They will always be willing to play with them and will be able to take any situation and turn it in to a learning activity. The most practical way I see individualized, personalized learning happening is for each student to get their own 24/7 computer tutor. The world around us will be its eyes and ears.
Essentially the world around us will become smart and connected in a way that makes smartphones look like two cans tied together with a string. Society will have to deal with the repercussions of this new technology at a speed that has never happened before. So teach your children well, because they will be shaping a new world we can barely imagine.