Way back in 2007, an article in ComputerWorld (https://www.computerworld.com/article/2539461/mobile-wireless/13-future-mobile-technologies-that-will-change-your-life.html) predicted 13 disruptive mobile technologies that we were on the cusp of realizing. Seen in today's context, it makes for an interesting read. Some of the ideas touted as revolutionary and fantastic are common-place today; of the remaining, some have either fallen by the roadside, pushed into obsolescence by better, more efficient solutions, or, like Augmented Reality, are finally becoming mass-access technologies. Therein lies the rub of writing an article on recent trends in technology, mobile and otherwise - in less than a decade from now, someone else will probably critique this piece and consign it to the same mixed bag as the Computerworld article.
It is, of course, no surprise that the pace of technological improvements has picked up in the last couple of years. One could very well argue that these developments are the result of leaps in computing power that can now be squeezed into a chip the size of your fingernail. A Raspberry Pi 3, for instance, which is a little more than a credit-card-sized chip, has the computing power of cutting-edge laptops of 6 years ago. The touchscreen, once such a novelty on the original iPhone, is now the rule; in its place, the 'dumbphone' is the exception.
It is not just the processors that have benefited from billion-dollar attention-spans. As the processing power has increased, so has the need to give these chips something to do. And thus, you have the latest toy these days - the VR glass. What was introduced about 18 months ago as an expensive visual 'aid' to mobile phones, with support restricted to a few models and platforms, is no longer the domain of the rich and the experimental. You now have VR goggles that start from about a thousand rupees to top-of-the-line models like HTC Vive that cost over Rs 60,000 each (and that's if you are lucky enough to get it at a steep discount during one of the e-commerce majors' sales campaigns!)
While the VR glasses may be the most glamorous, or at least visible, gadget on the list, other devices too have staked claims to the legacy of the commonplace of 2017. The fingerprint scanner, once an esteemed presence on IBM's business laptops ("Yes, I have a laptop with a fingerprint reader... they gave it to me because I deal with sensitive data!"), is now all you need to sign up for a new SIM card at any of the nation's telecom stores. That and, of course, the aadhar number. Your wristwatch tells you how many calories you've burnt today. Portable chargers pack as much juice in them as used to be needed to power the old black telephones for an entire day.
And if the past few years are any indication of things to come, we are in for exciting times indeed. For here are even more inventions, innovations and other forms of technological advancement that are (supposed to be) waiting around the corner:
Imagine this: you walk into a supermarket and see a new item on the shelf. When you point your smartphone's camera at it, voila! Not only are you told what the product is, you can even view animated videos/schematics about how it was manufactured, what it is made of, the uses, etc.
Here's another, even more exciting example: one of the pilots we recently built was a proof of concept where a printed tiger in a book comes alive in glorious 3D - a palm-sized predator standing on the page of the book, staring right back at you and your kid! Now that's the kind of learning that sticks!
AR has many applications, and in fact, since the early months of 2017, more and more companies have opted for AR solutions to assist in their selling efforts.
One of the biggest gainers of AR technology so far has been the real estate industry where the solution helps home-owners visualize, in 3D, how the blueprints will translate into an actual apartment. This has brought down sales times and selling efforts, reducing the cost of acquisition and closing more deals than otherwise. AR's utility doesn't there - homeowners can even see how empty rooms might look with different variants of furniture.
As stated above, AR's applications extend beyond the obvious now. It is not just a time-wasting exercise, something to keep the kids occupied a la Pokemon Go. A doctor, operating on a tricky part of the body, might equip himself with a visor that overlays the configuration of a perfect body over the one actually under his scalpel.
There is really no end to technology. It is, to borrow from an image I have seen elsewhere, the horizon over an ocean that you are standing in the middle of. It goes around and comes back, and yet, each time you look, there's something new, something different. Today's fantastic imagination is tomorrow's reality.
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