My sons eager, enthusiastic eyes stared back at me as he beckoned me over to show me “A Day Made of Glass” by Corning – a beautifully futuristic piece showcasing the potential of Corning display technologies. A news broadcasting kitchen counter or a health advising mirror to replace the doctor. "This is not the future" I said, and the crestfallen look on his face brought me back to when his older brother told him the truth about Santa Claus.
Corning's fantasy of a world covered with interactive glass surfaces overlaid with useful information was partly right. There would be interactive surfaces, but they won't be made by Corning, and the displays won't be made of glass. What this vision failed to see was personalisation – a trend that has been evolving for many decades.
To explain further we need to consider the example of the human visual system. Vision holds a privileged position in our sensory system and we’re able to process visual data 60,000 times faster than text. The ability to communicate via images has overtaken other senses in our growth as a race. Whilst the invention of language was integral to the evolution of humankind, it was only possible to transmit and receive audio information in real time until the invention of the phonograph in 1877. In contrast, early humans were able to transmit their thoughts via cave painting for thousands of years. This incredibly powerful technology for the transmission of visual information meant for the first time ever, a person was able to communicate an idea, emotion, or message both to the self (a note or aide memoir, a passion) or send it to others asynchronously. This started a huge technological journey that is still happening to this day.
Entrepreneur and futurist Peter Diamandis describes a map of rapid technological progression as the 6 Ds of Disruption:
Now consider how images have been transmitted for the last century and the corresponding change in screen size:
As the screen gets smaller, the technology gets closer, until eventually photons are being beamed directly into your retina as in the Magic Leap One headset.
This pattern is everywhere. Considering how sound is transmitted a similar idea can be seen through the development of speakers to earphones, to now – Apple AirPods. Can you imagine whats next?
Glasses allow the ultimate synthesis of audiovisual and input technologies. In the case of Corning, they were half right. Yes, we'd want to have a richer understanding of the world around us by overlaying information over surfaces. However, it wouldn’t be ‘A Day Made of Glass’, but instead we’ll create an augmented world made by glasses. Work on the AR cloud has already begun with impressive demos by 6D.ai.
In the next article we cover the technologies that will be disrupted by our emotion sensing technologies.