Tomorrow's Internet - holographic get-togethers and more

April 20 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

A new higher-speed Internet2, now under development in labs around the world, will one day offer holographic images indiscernible from reality, providing an array of applications that we can only dream of today.

With digital video resolution four times finer than today’s HDTV, and haptic technologies that provide a realistic sense of touch, researchers can create holograph images of people filmed thousands of miles away enabling lifelike virtual interaction indiscernible from reality. The system uses cameras that capture live images of people from two or more places, merges the data, and feeds it back to all locations.

We could organize a meeting with friends or relatives from cities scattered around the world without anyone actually traveling. People will kiss, hug and reminisce as if they were in the same room. And our senses will convince us that they are there. We could even meet with a simulation of a favorite celebrity. (cont.)

To make these video transmissions and personal interactions appear real and lifelike will require an enormous amount of bandwidth. Bandwidth is the speed at which information – text, pictures, video, and other data – flows over the Internet.

Think of the now-vanishing dial-up, with modem speeds of 56 Kilobits-per-second, as a leisurely country lane. Broadband such as DSL or cable with 1 to 10 Megabits-per-second might be a regular street that you travel to work. Internet2, with current bandwidth of 10 Gigabits-per-second, but which, according to industry analyst Lauren Rotman, will soon increase to 800 Gigabits-per-second, will become the superhighway.

With so much speed and so little delay, unthinkable projects now become possible. Scientists could access the Cern Large Hadron Collider due to switch on in late 2008 and possibly discover how the universe began. In just a few hours, cancer researchers might run trillions of simulated nanotech experiments that could quickly lead to a cure for this dreaded disease.

With this high-speed wonder practically begging for users, when might the public see its benefits? In part, we already are. According to the Internet2 consortium, about four million people – including grade school and college students, and university, corporate, and government researchers – are already using the precursor to this advanced net. And as these students graduate into the work world, many will demand higher-speed connections, which will hasten the technology’s mainstream adoption.

Experts predict that by 2010 super-speed connections will find its way into our homes, and by 2015, holograph transmissions could become available. But today it is already possible to download high-definition versions of favorite movies through our computer to the TV. “I expect that we will see downloadable high-definition video to cell phones viewable with heads-up, wide-screen glasses soon”, says University of Washington engineering director Michael Wellings.

An even more advanced system under development at Carnegie Mellon might one day enable people to ‘teleport’ themselves over tomorrow’s Internet. Researchers Todd Mowry and Seth Goldstein believe that by 2025, we can send a temporary set of replicated atoms of people and objects, and reassemble them at the destination. Nobody actually travels in this teleporting scheme, but by mimicking live activity, people feel they are there.

Will these futuristic events happen? Forward-thinkers say yes. Consumer demands for virtual get-togethers with loved ones, corporations wanting to conduct business meetings, and firms hungry to increase sales through virtual reality will drive this ‘magical future’ forward.

Which of these applications sounds the most exciting to you?

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