This evening I was on a panel where the topic was the future of user interfaces. At some point I riffed on the very ideas I discussed here last week — beginning with the announcement last week of FDA approval for artificial retinas.
I suggested that if we wind forward by another twenty five years or so, those artificial retinas will improve to the point where every American parent will demand that their child get implants — simply so that the child can stay competitive with all of the other children.
This will lead to a world where everyone will have augmented reality — the technology will move out of those little round SmartPhone boxes, and migrated into our bodies. We will eventually cease to see this development as “technology”. It will just be normal.
In this new normal, you and I will be able to perceive virtual objects anywhere, including the empty space between us.
Of course we will want to touch those objects. And that’s the point when everyone will get finger implants. After which we will simply come to see such objects as real, just like we now tell ourselves that all our other artificial objects — couches, chairs, cars — are real.
I was heartened by the fact that people completely accepted this radical vision of the future. In fact, over dinner afterward, somebody said: “Twenty five years? Do you really think it will take that long?”