I had a dream…

In the future, operating systems will be obsolete. Computers would have personalities. One could be sarcastic, another would be really nice and optimistic, and another would be quiet, artistic and musical. All according with the owner’s personality and desire, and learning user habits and preferences…

A bit of Sci-fi? Hold that thought…

As I mention before, I have an increase interest for cognitive science. It’s the one thing that awakes my passion for technology that has been missing for quite some time. After more than 10 years dealing with integration and support, everything feels like ‘been there, done that’. Even if it’s a new piece of software, protocol, language or interface, it’s a matter of finding out how it works and done, next. So I’m on a very reflective moment in my professional career trying to find what’s next. Not just next position or next job, but in the big picture, what’s next for me, what do I really want to do. And what I really would like to do is to make integration among computers and people, to find new ways to develop computers. Keyboard for instance; it feels such an engineer’s solution. I have no doubt that iPhone and Wii success are hugely due the fact they integrate the user physically in the virtual world they represent, invoking the touch sense rather than just sight.

So, I’m thinking and reading and wondering… but two days ago, I question in my head made me freeze: ‘very nice, but do you have enough imagination to do such work?’ It was a doubt. I’m very creative, but how creative am I really? I was still thinking about it when went to bed, and there is that zone between sleep and awareness where I started imagining…

In the future, computers should have personalities. No keyboard or even input devices should be necessary; we already have headsets reading brain waves, and voice recognition has got to be better by them. Display could be anything, isn’t there this new window glasses where you can display information? So, not just the TV, but your microwave could display news and weather forecast. But that’s for someone who would like to read the news in the morning… what about someone like me, who prefer music? And maybe my microwave would already warm up the milk and pour my coffee.  The fridge would warn that I’m running out of cottage cheese and add it to the list, which would be a list that accepts both touch input – selecting the items I want from the supermarket’s products pictures  – but also accepting my writing and adding it to the list. But that’s easy – fridges are already running Linux

Ok, so the person who likes news can see the news and I can hear music and have my breakfast, what about the family organizing everyone’s breakfast and getting ready to take the kids to school? Traffic information would be nice; ideas for recipes for lunch based on what’s available in the fridge and cupboard, maybe a connected food processor would start chopping the vegetables before you arrive? Adding spices would be my part to it, I never know when I feel like adding cumin or oregano…

The computer would be the main brain of such network of devices. Having your data in the cloud seems fine, until you ran into problems like bandwidth, the fact your data is controlled by someone else and they may shut it down – or even the government may cut your access. So the PC would be an “in-house-cloud-server”. It could be inside of a wall – I bet some people would have it already; I’m certainly doing that when I have my own apartment. And the display would be a small one in the wall, which would display pictures while not in use. So user interfaces also will be obsolete. But all this can only be possible if the industry ever agree on following standards. If you have one ‘Samsung house’ or one ‘Siemens house’, everyone will have to start from scratch and I won’t be able to see it in my lifetime. If we all use the same protocols and APIs, we could do that by 2050 maybe…

Of course, we are talking about people living in areas with Internet access and with money to buy such electric devices – and in many countries, that’s not really an issue. But if we really would like to change everyone’s experience, we need to think about everyone – poor people in Africa, India, Brazil. And amazes me the power technology has, the importance it has over many things I would think are more important. I’ve seen a presentation showing how people use cell phones in some regions in Africa, where there is one source of electricity for everyone, usually in the center of the village, in the city hall or something like it. That doesn’t stop them from having cell phones – remembering glorious days of Nokia phones whose batteries lasted more than one week… so everyone takes their phones to the electricity source and charges them there. Those phones have processing capabilities and network coverage, what else could they do? Play radio? Will processor be so small, cheap and powerful that even those people would manage to have one? So they would have TV and internet capabilities?

And why do we have to hold phones anyway? They are so annoying when you are in a long call, so unnatural to hold them to carry everywhere… why can’t I have already a wristwatch phone, or even bracelet-phone? Even better if I can change its colour to match my outfit – and I hope by 2050 we are over that idea that everything for women has to be pink, please. My watch phone would have a small earpiece for receiving or making calls…

It’s a bunch of ideas and idealization. It may be utopia. It may be people already developing it. But it sure answers my question – I do have imagination…

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