Microsoft just released a new video that visually demonstrates how the company believes technology is poised to evolve over the next five to 10 years. The results are based on the trends its researchers and engineers are seeing in software, devices, displays, sensors, processors and intelligent systems.
The video reflect Microsoft’s core belief that intelligent systems will provide information when we need it, allowing us to work effortlessly across devices and improving the efficiency of our daily lives.
Microsoft heavily emphasizes how thin they think future displays will be. Smartphones, tablets and desktop monitors all measure in at wafer-like thicknesses, slabs of white, blank slates that images and video can be pawed, swiped and manipulated.
On-screen images can be holographic, so tilting the angle of your phone, for instance, could show you a 3-D rendition of a bar graph. And images aren’t confined to the dimensions of the touchscreen you’re using.
And the technology goes even further in the kitchen: A tap on the refrigerator door reveals its contents, and tapping on a food item can bring up recipes relating to that item.
“Many of the technologies in the video, such as stereoscopic-3D displays … speech recognition, real-time collaboration, and data visualization are already part of products available today,” Jones told Wired.com. The video just expands on their capabilities to where they could be sometime in the next decade.
There’s one big thing that’s missing from the piece: Paper. A woman peruses a magazine on a large legal-pad sized tablet. A child seated at a kitchen table draws and plays a game on another touchscreen device. A dad moves a virtual Post-It note from one spot to another on an interactive wall calendar. Hand gestures pass data from a slate to the countertop. For all intents and purposes, papyrus is virtually extinct.
There are also a number of user experience aspects in the video that would also make our computing experiences more comfortable. For example, around the 3:30 mark, a man at a desk opens up a video (or video chat) with a woman, and as he scoots his chair back, her image enlarges proportionately. This could feasibly be accomplished using facial recognition and some IR sensor technology to measure the distance of the face to the screen.
“In the future, productivity software will work to extend our human capabilities, transitioning from the role of a passive tool to that of an active assistant,” Jones said.