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.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - COVER STORY -

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

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