Communications beyond the next decade

Will the future hold seamless communications, where every object is a gateway, as in this cartoon "borrowed" from the DryBonesBlog?

I am involved in the set up of the IEEE Technology Time Machine Workshop (IEEE TTM) that will take place in San Jose, California, on October 21st - 22nd, and I am reviewing ideas that speakers will put forward to challenge the audience.

I am not going to spoil the event by revealing what these guys will be voicing but in reading some of the foresight I get the impression that we are forecasting a linear evolution: communications are going to be faster, better, cheaper....

This of course is true but what if they might be just ... different?

In talking to people I am often urged for a reality check. If you are looking 25 years down the lane in telecommunications you should not expect any dramatic changes, apart from linear evolution. There is so much money involved that any change happens via layering of new stuff that coexists with old stuff.

Yes, I agree this is true. 

On the other hand, 25 years ago:

- cell phones were a few and non one was imagining the kind of pervasiveness they have reached today

- most people did not have any telecommunications service (connectivity) in most developing Countries 

- Internet was a word know to a selected few, that did not imagine there could be a World Wide Web...

- Telecom Operators were the only one that could offer telecommunications services, and the word "App" did not exist

- Skype, Viber, Google, Facebook were nowhere to be seen.

Looking at this we can say that what was 25 years in the future 25 years ago would have been very difficult to predict using "linear innovation".

So, if I have to look down the lane 25 years from now, I would start to consider the fact that we will have in our hands some 8 TB of storage contained in a flash memory (ITRS technology roadmap) embedded in some kind of device - including cell phones assuming there will be anyone left- and that is more than the Web you or I are looking at in a year. Some smart program may upload "our" Web to "our" personal storage so that we will have at our fingertips. Our Internet will be kept updated, and the likelihood we will be looking for something that has not been automatically stored will be very very low indeed.

Scientists are looking at the Human Brain, and there might be discoveries of new communications paradigms that could be replicated outside of the brain flanking and eventually replacing todays communications paradigms.

Different use of the spectrum, using low energy pulses may lead to real pervasive communications that i turns may change, once again, the way we see the world and interact with it.

And, yes, I forgot to mention several new things, in technology and market innovation, that we know nothing about today, as we were unaware of the WWW, smartphones, Apps just 25 years ago!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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