THE FUTURE, WHERE MANY PATHS MEET
GOOGLE IS ALREADY WORKING ON ITS PROJECT GLASS TO BRING AUGMENTED REALITY TO SPECTACLES THAT DETAIL WHAT YOU ARE SEEING. THERE IS EVEN TALK OF TAKING THIS TECHNOLOGY TO CONTACT LENSES.
If the first experiments with device convergence, like the ugly televisionVCR combos, were duds, the future looks really bright. While we won’t see convergence killing popular devices soon, the chances are there will be a consolidation of devices in households. So instead of a music system, television, media player, PC and a home theatre adorning your living room, the pride of place might go to a single device that does all of the above. It could be a television or a PC that are good enough to ensure you don’t need the services of the rest.
However, one of the first things that convergence is bound to kill won’t be a gadget. It will be the wallet. We are al- ready speeding towards a cashless society where your phone or tablet will hold all your financial information and make payments over the counter when required. NFC is already being used to payment across the world, though India has been a bit slow off the blocks. Apps from financial institutions and credit card companies will soon give people multiple payments options and you will no longer have to carry a bulky wallet around.
A lot of the convergence in the near future will be app-based. Developers are dishing out may apps that can take on the role of a standalone device. Take for instance Viber. It lets you make calls over the Wi-Fi from a host of devices, not necessarily a phone. Then there are apps that let you scan documents, those that bring a telephoto lens to your tablet and even more basic ones like torches and scales. That is also convergence, in the broad sense.
Existing converged devices will also take on new roles. The Epson Moverio, for instance, is being used on an experimental basis to bring augmented reality to the real world. An experiment conducted in Japan with the device showed that people who used the device for online classes in between physical lectures were able to assimilate both the courses. Others used demos being played out on the device to
simultaneously work on real world tasks. Yet others have used the device to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other remote- controlled devices. The possibilities are immense. And everyone knows that Google is already working on its Project Glass that brings augmented reality to eye glasses to detail what you are seeing. There is even talk of taking this technology to contact lenses.
A lot of the innovations around convergence are driven by the increasing popularity of Android. While Android is already driving a lot of in- car entertainment, there are chances that your will see the operating system drive the car itself in the not so distant future. Auto manufacturer Saab has already announced its IQon Infotainment system that along with entertainment uses Android to monitor the car’s on-board computer and even help with navigation. It can also take in new apps, though there aren’t many that can be put to use for controlling a car, at least not an actual one. At least, technology like this will free those drivers who dock a tablet on the dashboard for the on the road assistance. There is also work going on to incorporate a transparent interface on the windshield itself, thus freeing the entire dashboard, maybe even getting rid of the steering wheel itself. But that is a bit too futuristic at the moment.
Don’t be surprised if Android drives the car itself in the not so distant future