The Future of Computers and Entertainment
As much as I love to bash Steve Jobs (and I really, really do), you got to give the man his props. The iPhone had barely hit the market before people were coming up with new and interesting uses for it. This year at CES, we saw an iPhone being used as a remote for a receiver. Scientists at CERN are even now discussing potential of their "Grid" - a new internet that has the potential to be 10,000 times faster than what we know today. Not only that, but they are thinking that someday everyone will store all their information online. Now, security issues aside, let's think about the ramifications of that.
If all of our data were stored online, that would mean that we wouldn't need to worry about local storage - just access. So let's just say that we all had devices the size of a cell phone. Let's call them a "personal remote" (though I imagine they'll still make calls). They all have OLED displays or something similar so they are ultra slim with millions of colors. Maybe they fold out to contain a full size keyboard or maybe we all get used to a smaller iPhone style one. Regardless, they have some sort of biometric measurement input so that only we can operate the device or access our data.
The key here is security and versatility. With biometrics, it'd make passwords a thing of the past. We wouldn't have to worry about remembering our mother's maiden name or which of the 3-5 passwords we normally use. A thumb or retinal scan and we're in - no matter whose device we're using. Provided the device is wireless (which of course it will be) it can access our data (whatever that might be) from nearly anywhere. Sure, the running fiber optic cables to every house/business for a new internet is going to take years but how long does it take to update a wireless network? A fraction of the time and cost I'm sure.
Now, in the home you have your internet connection and maybe some sort of small desktop computer. Your computer basically adds to the overall storage and computing power of the internet. Since your data is spread around different servers all over the net, it doesn't matter. But in order to have access, you have to "contribute" so to speak. Maybe your accessible storage online is dictated by how much storage you add to the internet. The thing to remember is that your handheld device or home computer doesn't have to do any computations alone. All that is spread among all the computers on the net. While that won't make much difference for text files and small pictures, it is only a matter of time before we move into holographic technology and other processor intensive activities. Can you imagine? Maybe one of the factors that will determine where you buy a house will be how much computing power that local network has!
But how much will you really need unless you are generating the data yourself? DRM will be a thing of the past as you will be able to access your purchased content whenever and from wherever you want. Home theaters will no longer be stuffed full of different source components. All you'll need is a display, speakers, and some sort of server connected to the net (wired or wirelessly). Your hand held device will sync up with the server of your choosing and you can decide to stream any media you have stored on the net to the home theater. Doesn't matter if you are at home, at a friend's house, or if you are testing out displays at the local big box store.
Sound like a pipe dream? It probably is. But this is the direction we just might be headed. Being that dependant on one widely accessible place as the repository of all your media doesn't sound so bad but what about personal data? Will we ever feel comfortable leaving all that online? I know we are dubious now but remember people had the same misgivings about computers when they first came on the scene. Only time will tell how this will all shake out.
This has been discussed on the Cyber technical circles for years and years , it was previously referred to as "Internet 2". It will never fly ..not one wants to pay for it and let the other guy have a free ride and no one can agree on an allocation scheme and who would manage and it it became profitable how the profit would be divided.
Just like putting a 1 cent stamp cost on Internet email. Correct spam and you fix the Internet. If you have a limited set of senders and receivers then you lose all marketing opportunities and lose the ubiquitous of the Intenet and no one wnat to give up the ubiquitous of the intenet.
Getting back on topic, I just wish they would put an Ethernet port on everything. Receiver, DVD, TV, etc... Then with something like the iPhone click on an icon the represents the device and the appropriate interface comes up. All over 802.11g.
AMX and Crestron already do this, but the $$ is high.
I suppose I'm showing my Luddite tendencies, though, in thinking that having all my personal data available on the web is NOT a good thing. My PC at home, while hooked to to the web via a broadband connection, can be turned off, and while it's turned off, I can be pretty confident that no one's hacking into it.
The previous note talked about the sale of personal data to advertisers, and that's just one way your personal data can be used (my gosh, I'm really starting to sound like a nut-case conspiracy theorist), but, it really does get down to presuming you have a degree of anonymity when you're out and about. I can walk into a store and buy something, and, if I pay cash, no one knows who I am (I tend to either tell cashiers that, no, they can't have my zip code or phone number when they ask, or, just to be troublesome, I make up zip codes and phone numbers - try giving them a 6-digit number and insisting that you've lived there for 20 years and have never had a problem with that zip code anywhere else).
But I digress. I want to own my media. I want to have physical possession of it. I like to read the liner notes, admire the artwork, swat flies with it. But I also like the fact that if the cable connection goes down, I can still watch a movie or listen to music.