The Future is Converging All Around Us

October 15 2008 / by juldrich
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2015   Rating: 9 Hot

One of the biggest and most exciting trends in technology is that of “convergence” – or how different technologies will combined with one another to create entirely new devices. These devices, in turn, will go on to change human behavior in unique and unexpected ways.

Convergence, as a trend, is nothing new. The printing press did not materialize out of thin air. First, paper, and then ink, and ultimately moveable type had to be created before Gutenberg could create his historic device. The radio, television, computer and Internet are also the result of a convergence of various technologies.

To this end, I recently came across three articles on three different technologies which, when they converge, could change everything from how we educate and entertain ourselves to how key aspects of our economy operate.

The first is virtual reality technology. This insightful article from TechCrunch discusses the new “RealityV experience” developed by Intelligence Gaming. It is part virtual reality and part video and it is now being used by the Army to help soldiers train for real-world situations – such as dealing with a hostile crowd in a foreign country.

The video below provides an excellent overview of the technology:

The second article reviews the extraordinary advances being made in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Amazingly, in a recent contest, in 25% of the cases human judges thought they were communicating with a person when in fact they were conversing with a computer! This technology, of course, is only going to improve and as it does we should expect computers – as well as robots and avatars (in virtual reality settings) – to play a more active role in our lives.

Finally, there was this article discussing how the IEEE is now developing standards for “body area networks.” One promising application of this technology is to create interactive billboards. In essence, the billboard will know when you are in its presence and it will deliver a tailored message directly to you.

This is both exciting and a little creepy, but I am more interested in how this interactive technology will converge with virtual reality and AI. When it does I can easily envision virtual reality education pods which can helping students learn in new subjects and topics in a more exciting and engaging manner. I can also envision hyper-active, 3-D video games which respond to our every move. I can also envision homes, schools and retails outlets needing to be fundamentally redesigned in order to best utilize the convergence of these three technologies – virtual reality, AI and body networks.

Comment Thread (3 Responses)

  1. One example of an almost immediate commercial application for this training technology is with the Rosetta Stone language training system (with which I am impressed, but have no commercial involvement sadly). Adding an on-line forum, interactive experience with native language speakers would add the necessary degree of spontanaity and regional inflection to give the resource greater practical application. I can see business alliances between such a venture and other international commercial interests like resorts or sporting events (Sandals or Club Med, theme parks, Formula 1 Racing to suggest only a few possibilities) as sponsoring/hosting venues for language students to arrange meet-ups with fellow students met on-line. Businesses that own international subsidiary units might also serve as hosts of a forum serving their employees via company intranet.

    I think this US Army tool will prove to be important in a lot of applications, but all of them will draw the concept of continuing/adult education further into the mainstream of basic societal assumptions, I think.

    Good one, Jack.

    Posted by: Will   October 15, 2008
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  2. Can my dream of a realistic Star Trek holodeck be coming true? Seriously, It would make a great teaching environment, just as you said.

    Also, I want to talk to these Turin test computers. I am a little skeptical. I mean, isn’t it easy to convince 25% of people a lot of things? Were the people representative of the population or were they students or something?

    Posted by: Mielle Sullivan   October 16, 2008
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  3. @Mielle: The 25 percent threshold is pretty low, I’ll admit. However, according to the article, 80 percent said that they were “impressed” with the computers. My broader point is that the technology will continue to improve.

    Posted by: juldrich   October 20, 2008
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