Are we there yet?

I decided to take a break from my story having started at Linear Blue around 6 months ago, as everything is settling down and becoming easier for me. Instead I’d like to talk about where we might be going in the future in terms of the technology we use day to day.

As with all things IT, technological advance over the last couple of years has sped up at a tremendous rate. In specific we’re seeing huge surges in VR and AR, Virtual and Augmented Reality. With kick starters over the last couple years like the Oculus Rift and the Leap Motion coming into existence, and then taking off, as well as huge companies like Google investing millions into Google Glass, we’re taking leaps and bounds towards no longer needing bulky computers all the time and instead start carrying items on us easily.

A little explanation might be necessary; what we think when we say the word “Computer” is a box that has a screen attached with some form of a mouse and a keyboard, where you are always distant from it. With something like VR or AR you and the computer become one in a respect. The Oculus Rift for example takes away the need for that bulky monitor and instead places in on your head, allowing you to turn your head left and right and see the picture move with you so as to emulate you being in that environment. The Leap Motion takes away the mouse and replaces it with intelligent movement, no longer needing to perform the usual double clicks and mouse movements; No trailing wires, no bulky thing in your hand that doesn’t feel too comfortable. We’re slowly breaking how we interact with these machines that we’ve always seen in a certain way and making it more body interactive.

My title “Are we there yet?” refers to the concept of the ability to use VR and AR reliably for things we want to use easily and confidently as we do with computers now. The answer is not quite. To me we’re probably still at the stage we were in 1833 with the Arithmetic Logic Unit created by Charles Babbage. Now that sounds like a long time ago, but in that time a lot of people have thrown their hats in the ring and stepped up and our technological advances are so much faster now than then that we’ll be using VR and AR everyday, comfortably, within 50 years. Right now our VR capabilities are limited, our machines are bulky, and our solutions to these problems are somewhat unsophisticated; but there’s one thing they all share, and that is promise. Soon enough we’ll be using IT like Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report and it will be completely normal.

Even our watches are starting to be smarter. They’re no longer clockwork dials on our wrists, but can now do everything from run Apps to monitoring how we sleep. But the really interesting thing coming out soon is something by an international company called Razer. They are a PC Gaming peripherals development company, geared towards creating high quality keyboards, mice, controllers, gamepads etc. Their newest invention, the Nabu, could revolutionise the way we interact with people not just online, but in person. Just like a watch it’s wrist worn and like some wrist devices out there already it will count the number of steps you take, number of stairs you climb and how you sleep, showing the best sleep pattern for you direct to your phone. However the truly spectacular thing is it’s personal skills. If you walk into a party or a bar or you’re meeting some one and both of you own a Nabu, it’s possible to set specific hand motions to get the person contact details. Say you shake hands, a universal sign of introduction and greetings, the Nabu has incredibly precise sensors that can tell your hand movement. It goes and asks for the contact information for that person and brings it back, instantly meaning you never lose someone’s contact information, and as it’s programmed with phone integration so it will be saved not to the device itself but straight to your phone so no need to go get the details off it at a later time.

It’s this latter device, the Nabu, that truly caught my interest and sparked this blog post, with it’s retail being announced as less than $100 it’s something that isn’t out of reach of everyone, and this is the kind of thing we need if we want to increase our interest in AR and VR technology. But the question now is why AR and VR, and how does it benefit me, personally as a database developer, and you, the average consumer or business owner, in the coming years. I’m thinking about how we could, in the future, start working with AR, like the Nabu, and instantly grab someones details and how we can implement that into a database, say for a business owner that often goes to Networking Events where they’re unlikely to remember everyones name or number, and is therefore going to lose a possible contact in the future. It’s these kinds of things that excite me about where we’re going because it will no longer be a sci-fi fantasy for all of us, but our reality and it’s mind boggling that in 20 years we may no longer have computers on desks and instead wear them as smaller devices.

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