“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be…”
When Tennyson wrote those words in the middle of the nineteenth century, he could scarcely have imagined the wonders that technology routinely serves up for us now in the twenty-first. But while the world may look very different now, the human need to stare into the future with excitement and longing hasn’t gone away.
Thankfully, Microsoft is on hand to satisfy those urges, and has produced a new video, entitled ‘Productivity Future Vision 2011’, that offers us a glimpse of the future and the directions in which technology may take us next. Suffice it to say, the future looks like a pretty cool place to go.
Produced by Microsoft’s Office Labs division - an innovation centre that specializes in devising new and sometimes radical concepts and ideas and finding ways to bring them to life in Microsoft's real-world product portfolio - the video showcases an exciting world of touch-focused computing that makes collaboration and communication simple and intuitive.
From mobile handsets and flexible slates, to large displays and 'intelligent' glass surfaces and walls, devices communicate and interact with each other, knowing when to present information, reminders and interaction points. Mobile devices offer a personalized experience, while the larger systems shown are geared towards productivity and making collaboration and sharing seamless and uncomplicated.
This is the latest in a series of such video productions, including Office Labs' 'Vision 2019' video (revealed in 2009 by Nokia's Stephen Elop when he was still President of Microsoft's Business Division), that explores many similar concepts to this one. Kurt DelBene, Microsoft Office President, believes such short films are important: “We create these videos to help tell the story we see unfolding in technology, and how it will impact our lives in the future, [where technology] helps us manage our time better, focus our attention on the most important things, and foster meaningful connections with the people we care about.”
Doesn’t this all seem a bit farfetched though? Glasses that can translate for you, reminders appearing on windows, touch-enabled surfaces everywhere you look? DelBene explains: “All of the ideas in the video are based on real technology. Some of the capabilities, such as speech recognition, real time collaboration and data visualisation already exist today. Others are not yet available, but represent active R&D happening at Microsoft and other companies.”
Microsoft’s vision of the world – and all the wonder that it promises – may seem a bit fanciful, but perhaps the future isn’t as far away as it seems after all.