The Internet and its gigantic offspring — the Web — is always in flux as new technologies emerge from around the world.
We go now into the second decade of the 21st century with the Internet definitely morphing into an even more massive user base. It is wise for enterprising people to keep a close eye on these irrevocable shifts because opportunities for new business may also arise with each digital innovation.
For good or for bad, many high tech goodies lay over the horizon.
For one, the Internet will not remain for long the sole domain of computers and mobile platforms. More and more gadgets will connect and interact with the millions of servers that make up cyberspace.
Most visible of all will be smart TV sets and interactive screens all over public spaces. From there, the fan widens into the personal, consumer, business-to-business, government and industrial spheres.
Today there are some two billion computing devices connected to the Internet. In five years time, experts estimate 18 billion gadgets will be active. Expect many wearable communications devices and a vast range of interactive domestic appliances. We’ll see many people with RFID insertions in their bodies, some for medical reasons, some for security and others for socializing. Egads!
Array of new biz tech
In terms of commerce, screens will fill walls at airports, hospitals, parks, ports, malls and along sidewalks. The screen will all carry ads and clever interactive modes of advertising. Holographic salespeople connected to the Web appear like ghosts along shopping center hallways, eager to spill their spiel. Billboards connected to the cloud will interact with commuters with topical promotional messages, including sponsored traffic reports, weather information and roadway navigation data.
Parking meters will interact with drivers and automated toll stations will advise about car buying options. ATM machines will promote bank loans and investment products. Hospital rooms will offer screens for morning conferences between patients and physicians.
In hotel rooms, electronic butlers programmed by service industry software engineers will advise about security, fire drills and house amenities to newly arriving clients. On counter screens, digital barkeeps will offer patrons an entire gamut of drinks, pricing and adequate snacks to go with each libation.
Schools and universities will take advantage of the upcoming semantic webs with new types of educational options, including professors on-demand, e-texts from the cloud, remote home working and virtual tech labs.
Manufacturing venues will see Internet-managed assembly lines, interconnected delivery systems, Web-based equipment and materials inventory, production and timekeeping procedures, not by punch clocks but by virtual supervisors in the form of avatars. Sensors tethered to the Internet will manage all aspects of the workday and our public transportation services.
A new digital life
All our daily routines will be in some way or the other linked to the World Wide Web. Not just our PCs or smartphones, but also our cars, boats and bicycles. Probably even our skates and scooters. Our social life will be an ever more open book, as privacy shrinks further with each new interactive link to the Net. All our medical history will be stored somewhere in the cloud for fast, opportune and precise access by authorized health professionals. Or so we hope.
Robots will provide surgical procedures in the operating rooms much the same way such machines manufacture cars with precision. Cyber secretaries, linked to our smartphones, will at last diligently manage our medical appointments to avoid unnecessary waiting time at the doctor’s office. Medical labs will analyze daily all our personal bio data in one single Web archive for access anywhere in the world.
Traffic lights, public illumination, pedestrian pathways and bicycle lanes will all be programmed to synchronize with use and demand. We will be able to fully manage our travel time and way routes from step one to return home. Grocery shopping will be all online, as all our personal banking and household utilities payments. Water and electricity meters will no longer be underground or outside, but in the kitchen and with usage analytics.
Before a water main breaks under a busty street, sensors will alert about possible future problems.
Virtual engineers will manage bus routes and train service.
Hopefully, elections and political campaigns can be programmed to run with precision and results almost predicted beforehand, thanks to social media input. Maybe someday we can elect our leaders via the Internet, freeing us of the tumbacoco caravans, tumultuous rallies, vain televised debates and shameful plastering of public spaces with political propaganda.