The internet, it’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Technology, as a whole actually – do you ever just sit back and think about how magnificent it is? Think about how far we have advanced in so many fields, and the things we have made possible. Take lasers for example, everyone likes lasers. Did you know that lasers exist, that are capable of cutting away tissue the equivalent size of 1/200th of a human hair in four billionths of a second? It’s called laser eye surgery, though I’d bet you had never thought of it that way before. I for one find it utterly fascinating.
However, I digress. In my opinion, one of the most important pieces of technology that has come about in the last half century is the aforementioned internet. Without it, you wouldn’t even be reading this – I don’t know what you would be doing exactly, a pastel drawing perhaps? What I know for certain is that you definitely wouldn’t be reading a piece of text, written by someone in an unknown part of the world, that has been decoded, uploaded to collective of data servers, also in an unknown part of the world, beamed to a device of your choosing, coded to match said device and then displayed for your reading pleasure.
Beaming capabilities aside, I find that one of the most beautiful traits of the internet is how it has expanded our circles, yet simultaneously brought us closer together. The connectivity of things such as email, search engines and social media are just part of everyday life (for the most part) and are (arguably) even taken for granted.
This attribute has benefited people in so many different ways. We have access to a near infinite amount of knowledge, literally at the touch of a button. Say you want to start your own business, but you don’t have any idea how to do so. A simple search, a click, and voila – a comprehensive and easy step by step guide to starting your own business. Say you’re at a meeting with your bank manager, and they are confusing you with their financial argot. Another simple search, another click, and now you have a bank manager jargon buster! Though, you would have to ask them to stop talking while you used your smartphone in this scenario of course.
Obviously, the internet is capable than much more than these two actions (I hear there is even a calculator on it these days) and when I think about the vast wonders of the internet, I can’t help but question what is next? What is going to be the “next big thing”?
It’s bound to happen, it always does. 5 years ago we didn’t have iPads. 10 years ago we didn’t have smartphones. 15 years ago we didn’t have social media. 25 years ago we didn’t even have web pages. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Once the internet was conceived, it has bore many fine fruits for the world over.
There is a pattern developing that shows us that there isn’t all that long in between “next big things.” There isn’t much time before something, that we might find totally inconceivable, will be unveiled to the general public. And this is what keeps me up at night – trying to think of what actually is going to come next.
There have been many contenders for next big thing, that haven’t quite lived up to the hype. For me, the idea of Google Glass had so much potential, melding internet and smartphone capabilities into a pair of spectacles, but it never really took off. Unsurprisingly, “the project has been moved to a separate facility for continued refinement and advancement.” That is a fancy way of saying that it has been sidelined.
Enter two more known front runners for title of next big thing: The Oculus Rift and The Internet of Things.
Virtual reality has been a dream of the human race ever since The Lawnmower Man first exploded onto the silver screen, and quite rightly so. The possibilities are endless, and not just for gaming. This could online connectivity to its peak in that you might be able to talk to your friend across the Atlantic on more than a screen. Training surgeons in complex procedures; giving the student near firsthand experience of what it will be like is also a possibility. As is allowing the paralyzed or unable to see the world from the comfort of their own homes; and I’m certain many more different opportunities will arise for the hardware, especially once it makes it way into the hands of technologically gifted, teenage boys.
The Internet of Things is a little more exciting than its rather vague title would lead you to believe. It’s an older idea, that has only recently came into the spotlight after people discovered that we may be able to use the internet and technology to have nearly everything done for us (scenes of those floating chairs from Wall-E come to mind.) Though, who wouldn’t want their heating to automatically turn on once your thermostat recognises that you are home? Or, who wouldn’t want the coffee to start making itself after the gadget strapped to your wrist informs it that you’re awake? Who wouldn’t want what essentially is a smart-home? No one, that’s who. Well, perhaps the staunchest Amish, but even they would surely be interested in a smart-barn.
These, particularly the Internet of Things would’ve been rather unfathomable a few years ago and I think it goes to show just how quickly technology is progressing. Imagine trying to explain to someone, everything that has already been mentioned here, to someone from the ‘50s. The ideas and concepts would be near unfathomable to them, and this is what excites me.
Despite us having an indulgence of internet service and likewise technology available to us right now, we’ve still got more to look forward to, and at the moment, we can’t even imagine what it is going to be.
We can try, but I hope we don’t ruin the surprise.