Once every so often, Microsoft has a think about what the company will be doing in the future rather than having to focus on the revenue targets and metrics for the next 12 months. It’s during these times in particular that I remember why I work at Microsoft.
I remember seeing a video similar to this when I started Microsoft in 2001 and reflecting upon it a few years later when some of the ‘future’ technologies had become reality, Microsoft Smartphone (as it was known then) being the one I remember the most.
Take a look at the video below of our vision for 2019, then carry on reading the rest of this post…. no peeking !
Ok … so hopefully you didn’t peek and have a good idea of what we see the future looking like. Now to share my thoughts on how it will happen
Remote classrooms – Already possible using LiveMeeting and similar video technology, all we need now is the broadband speeds to increase and mass market cheap video displays/walls. Both are dropping in cost and increasing in size so certainly possible within the next 10 years. What was you internet speed at home and how big was your TV in 1999?
Touch screen surfaces – This is already available through Microsoft Surface. I played with one of these a while back and it truly is an amazing piece of technology, only a matter of time before it too becomes ‘mass market’ and more accessible to schools etc.
Integration into your child's school schedule – I have seen schools using SharePoint in order to provide access to calendaring etc so this is entirely possible now.
Projection – The guy at the airport uses location based technology to find the location of a colleague, he then projects ‘directions’ onto the floor. The IT world has already invented small projectors … examples here http://www.personalprojector.co.uk/ and RFID/GPS will make location based applications possible.
Room141 (4m3s) – Looking through the photos for Room 141. This is Photosynth and is available now.
So what’s stopping all this happen you might ask yourself? It’s a very good question and comes down to three areas in my opinion.
1. Availability of technology – Some technologies are still to be invented but that doesn't make them impossible. If someone had told me about Microsoft Surface or Photosynth two years ago I would not have believed it was possible, 24 months later look where we are now.
2. Cost of technology – Video conferencing is an example of a technology that is available but yet to take off ‘mainstream’ i.e. on every desk. This is partially down to the fact that its expensive. In a similar way to how we are applying a software approach to a hardware world with UC, bringing down the cost of communications software, I think we can do the same with some of the technologies shown in this video. As I mentioned earlier, Flatscreen TVs are another example of technology that was expensive but is now becoming mainstream (although obviously Microsoft did not have anything to do with that)
3. User/Organisation acceptance – The other key areas is user/organisation acceptance. A lot of people fear change and its those that are willing to accept change and ‘live on the bleeding edge’ that make technologies like this possible. I run my laptop on Windows 7 and have been using OCS 2007 R2 for months now. Yes it sometimes ‘stumbles’ but that's the fine with me because I get to make the most of the technology before other people, living the life in these vision videos as much as I can.
I look forward to reviewing this post 12 months from now and seeing how much of this has become reality, getting us closer to 2019.
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Augmented reality - During the video you see some examples of augmented reality. In the video this is usually shown by holding one of the ‘tablets’ in mid air, the best example of which is when they hold one up to the plant. Looks like we are working on that already. Take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/msrtechfest/videoGallery.aspx?initialVideo=techfest_channel10_AugmentedReality