One of the things differentiating humans from animals is that we have plenty of totally different ways to communicate: from sight to long-distance phone calling to video chatting. And that’s not all. Computer programmers keep inventing something new to make communication even more efficient and enjoyable. Some directions in the field are quite certain for now, some may die off over time, others may become an unexpected breakthrough. Today we are exploring promising innovations and guessing which of them will become our tomorrow.
● Smartification with 5G to IoT
Talks about 5G have already been in the air for a long time. 5G is a term for the next-fifth-generation of mobile internet connectivity. Basically, it is all about speed because 5G promises much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage, and more stable connections. The speed will rise to 100 times faster than 4G, which means an HD movie can be downloaded in seconds. It will use shorter millimeter radio waves, but these waves are more easily blocked by physical objects. Perhaps, it will not be possible without building a lot of extra small antenna. Unfortunately, if this problem is not solved, in the foreseeable future 4G is not going anywhere while 5G will be possible in a limited area only similar to how it was tested and shown at the Pyeongchang Olympic Games. Ironically, there is no definite standard technology that will be applied as 5G yet, but a number of new technology developers are competing for the title from various telecom companies. Meanwhile, most countries plan to start 5G in 2020 but Qatar's Ooredoo says it has already launched a commercial service, while South Korea is aiming to launch next year.
However, the most exciting thing about 5G is what possibilities it opens. 5G speed makes real such exciting things like IoT or self-driving cars. IoT stands for Internet of Things and means literally smartification of anything from a vacuum cleaner to postal service. The concept of a smart home is a good example. We are so close to a fantastic time when a wardrobe suggests the best clothes for today according to our schedule and weather forecast. But such improvement in usual life is at the tip of the iceberg. IoT will globally change the world. If the concept of a smart city implies traffic management, smart streets, and climate control, future industries will rely on the automatization of the whole process, smart packing and logistical management. 5G innovation will even provoke advances in spheres like farming: using smart RFID sensors and GPS’s, farmers can track the location of livestock and manage them easily.
● Wireless Everywhere
- AirGig. AT&T launched two trials of its unique Project AirGig technology, based on signal guided by power lines. The project does not require any more towers to be built or cables to be buried underground. A special device is attached to an existing utility pole and AirGig uses its resources to provide low-cost, one GB (gigabite) per second speed data transfer. Therefore, the product motto “Where there is power, there is AirGig” is quite literal.
- Li-Fi. Seven years ago, Edinburgh professor, Harald Haas, proposed to use visible light for Internet distribution. Li-Fi stands for Light Fidelity and makes light bulbs to act as wireless routers. Tests show speeding data transfer up to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. If Wi-Fi uses radio waves, Li-Fi transmits data by turning light on and off at ultra-high speeds. Meanwhile, the photodetector receives and transforms data into an electronic form usable on a computer or smartphone. Given that it works using standard LED bulbs, it opens fascinating new possibilities such as streetlights as hotspots, or usage on a plane or near medical equipment. However, the biggest problem of it is directly unsolvable – light cannot go through walls. Though it is far more secure than other wireless technologies, it will always be limited. For now, the commercial idea still needs development but there are several companies excited about it and they are preparing a light revolution.
● See the Difference
80% of information a human gets is through his eyes. This fact makes visual communication a powerful tool. Some companies spend large sums of money on development of the way in which we usually all communicate.
- Hololens. One of the pioneers of bringing holography mixed reality was Microsoft with Hololens project. It is a pair of smart glasses that enables you to see holograms and interact with them. Microsoft does only an individual production of Hololens for specific businesses. But they offer developers around the world to work on applications for it. The hardware of such a device has multiple sensors as specialized components, advanced optics and a custom holographic processing unit. All these features allows a user to move the cursor to select holograms with a gaze, interact with apps using hand gestures and talk to Cortana, a Microsoft-built voice assistant, for more specific options at the same time. No more waving hands in the air explaining ideas. Hololens will help to easily visualize anything and even more, build it.
● On the Other Hand: Side Effects
- “Share” rather than “Feel”. An average person checks his smartphone once every 12 minutes and constantly posts on SNS. We have already reached the point of no return in becoming a “sharing” the moment society. An SNS user feels an overwhelming urge to share every moment of his life online, but the worst part is he lives to share. It is sad that an experience needs to be uploaded to become valuable.
- Think before Posting. From the day people created their SNS, they can see their profile. The age of SNS users is getting lower all the time. So it's becoming easier for kids to access SNS. This means you can access your parents’ entire story, including your childhood, with a single click. The new paradigm will certainly make a difference in human relationships. At least, for now, it is a good idea to think before posting.
- Overcoming Language Barriers. Google and other companies have been working for years on simultaneous translation projects. They are still not perfect, though impressive. But the real nowadays Esperanto is Emoji. This is a type of non-verbal, only visual by image communication no one needs to learn to understand.
Any of the future innovations planned are extremely smart tools. Their structure and working principles are not easy to understand for the masses, but tools will never fully replace creators. It is a perfect time for future creators to join in with the international community working out the best of tools to make our future incredible.