I got into computers when I was quite young, and to satisfy my interest, I read a lot of books about computing during my primary school years. I remember one such book that included a discussion about how computing could evolve in the future.
The book approached the topic using a narrative of a “future” scenario, that would probably correspond with today’s present. In that story, the protagonist was late for school because of a fault with the “home computer” regarding the setting of the thermostat or something similar. Upon arriving home from school, he interacted with the computer by speaking to it as if he was talking to another person, expressing his anger of the events that morning by speaking in full, natural-language sentences. The computer responded in kind.
This book was published at a time when most personal computing involved typing in BASIC programs, so you could imagine that a bit of creative license was taken in the discussion. But I remember reading this and being quite ambivalent about this prospective future. I could not imagine the idea of central computers being installed in houses and controlling all aspects of their environment. Furthermore, I balked at the idea of people choosing to interact with these computers using natural language. I’m not much of a people person so the idea of speaking to computers as if it was another person, and having to deal with the computer speaking back, was not attractive to me.
Such is the feeling I have now with the idea of anyone wanting to put on AR and VR headsets. This seems to be the current focus of tech companies like Apple and Google, trying to find the successor to the smartphone. And although nothing from these companies have been announced yet, and these technologies have yet to escape the niche of gaming, I still cannot see a future in which people walk around with these headsets outside in public. Maybe with AR if they can do so in a device that looks like a pair of regular-looking glasses, but VR? No way.
But as soon as I reflected on those feelings, that book I read all those years ago came back to me. As you can probably guess, the future predicted in that story has more-or-less become reality, with the rise of the cloud, home automation, and smart speakers like the Amazon Echo. And more than that, people are using these systems and liking it, or at least putting up with it.
So might the same thing happen with AR and VR headsets. I should probably stay out of the future predicting business.
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