- Instant Messenger for voice will emerge – Just as ubiquitous wired connectivity lead from email (sporadic and asynchronous) to IM (always-on and synchronous), so ubiquitous wireless connectivity takes us from cellphones to a push-to-talk model. A number of the staff and students here are trialing a very interesting device from Vocera, called a communications badge. It’s a small, two ounce device that’s basically just a microphone, speaker, battery, and 802.11 chip. People “push to talk” and use a voice-recognition enabled server to connect to other people. It’s simple, cheap, fast, and significantly lowers the time and effort cost of contacting someone. Just as with IM, the older folks are having trouble dealing with the interruptions. Eventually, you can see this device ending up in a hearing-aid form factor.
Portable devices completely dominate – 90% of the students on campus have laptops, and 98% of the incoming class of 2007 purchased wi-fi equipped laptops. Wi-fi PDAs are everywhere. Someone at dinner at the conference actually complained about the poor connectivity on his Blackberry and was wishing for wi-fi instead! One generation from now, you will hear the phrase, “Daddy, what’s a desktop computer?”
Voice is just an app – Dartmouth is issuing VoIP handsets to students for $50 each, and voice is just a low-bandwidth and not very interesting application. Long distance calls are indistinguishable from short distance calls. The phone companies will suffer mightily.
Location based services emerge – Students here are already running calendar applications that alert them of their next appointment based on their current location and estimated travel time. People can walk up to a printer and hit “print,” with the computer automatically routing the job to the physically closest printer. At UCSD, students with PDAs can see each other walking around campus, projected on real time maps and offer to get together, go eat, etc..
Newspapers have zero value – The USA Today lay on the floor outside my conference hotel room. With laptop in hand and ubiquitous wireless, I had Google News, Weblogs, EBay, CraigsList, and more, at my fingertips. I stepped over the newspaper and kept going…
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