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2017 predictions: will the VR bubble burst and machines converge with humans?

David Eden, Future Technologist and Product Innovator at Tata Communications | Dec. 13, 2016
As 2016 draws to a close, David Eden, Future Technologist and Product Innovator at Tata Communications, looks at technology advancements that will shape the way we live, work and experience the world around us in 2017 and beyond.

Lack of 5G will risk bursting the VR bubble

Practically unlimited storage and computing capacity in the cloud, superfast fibre connectivity at homes and sophisticated headsets make it possible for VR to become mainstream. However, mobile connectivity is not yet ready to support these immersive experiences despite the fact that VR is inherently mobile. In many parts of the world, 5G networks might not arrive until 2020, and organisations creating new VR applications will find that they aren't able to deliver these experiences to people wherever, whenever.

The lack of fast ubiquitous broadband contributed to the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the early 2000s, as ambitious, innovative Internet companies couldn't reach their customers who were stuck with painfully slow dial-up Internet connectivity. In the same way, slow mobile networks could easily burst the VR bubble.

Technology will converge with humans

Applications such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have shown us how the much-hyped connected home could look like thanks to advances in IoT-enabled sensor technologies and natural language processing. We are moving away from simply using technology to being surrounded by technology that enhances all aspects of our lives and the world around us.

But this is just the start. Next, the input and output of devices will disappear into the background altogether. You will no longer have to talk to a connected home terminal, computer or a smartphone, let alone type on one. The Internet of Things will evolve into the Internet of People which will enable humans and machines to interact in a more seamless, converged way than ever.  Wearables are already enhancing our ability to interact with the world. Once things start to interact with these technologies, as well as humans, our understanding of the world around us will augment exponentially. Imagine knowing exactly where to go to catch the right bus in a strange city, or being guided to a meeting within your office without having to check your calendar, as your wearable taps you on the shoulder to let you know which way to turn while you walk along.

But, this evolution will bring with it new security threats too because the more connected applications there are, the more vulnerable we become. There have been different efforts throughout the technology industry to tackling massive attacks aimed at webcams and other IoT devices - but this piecemeal approach is woefully inadequate as tens of billions of things become connected to the world's networks.  We will need a much more holistic, standardised and industry-wide strategy to securing the Internet of Things and the Internet of People. Until the industry is able to solve this problem, cyber criminals will continue to exploit the vulnerabilities in the connected word and prevent people, businesses and society as a whole from making the most of the incredible opportunities that the convergence of technology and humans brings.


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