5 minute read
Futuristic concepts of walking side by side with robots, being surrounded by endless amounts of screens and feeling overwhelmed with wearables is more frightening than exciting. Even though humanity can no longer imagine existence without technology and a constant flow of information, having a phone in one’s hand and staring at the screen is highly criticised. Many argue that technology restricts human interaction instead of enhancing communication. The time has come for screenless solutions.
But does it
make us happy?
In his TED talk, creative director of the Google Creative Lab, Tom Uglow asked the audience to imagine their happy place. It comes as no surprise that the happy, comfortable and relaxing spot is as close to nature as possible for most of us. Some years ago, the Swedish company The Astonishing Tribe, or TAT, presented their vision of screen future. TAT foresaw the multi-screening accurately. However, it is not as convenient as they imagined it. Most of us still prefer the real experience of touch, scent, and presence. Live shows and conferences are more preferred than live screening, and newspapers as well as books give a different experience than digital alternatives. Technology is supposed to make us more efficient and happy. Therefore, new screenless access to information is a serious topic and aim for engineers of the future.
Getting back to Tom Uglow’s talk, the comfortable interaction for humans is a natural environment with the demanded high level of information flow. Going to the library to learn something does not satisfy us anymore. In other words, we want to preserve the technological properties with no visible signs of the technology itself – take away the screens. That is not an unbelievably futuristic approach – MIT labs, Google Creative Labs, Amazon – everyone is working on technologies to offer a screenless internet experience.
Screenless Display Technology is a system transferring data and information to the person without a screen or projector. At the moment, there are three methods transmitting information screenlessly: visual image, retina display, and synaptic interface.
To some extent, they already exist and are being developed and integrated into the daily private and working life. Visual image is the projection of data through the physical properties of light. MIT has the Camera Culture group, which employs a number of projects building new tools for capturing and sharing visual information. The group is assigned to develop and utilize unusual optics, novel illumination, and emerging sensors. Microsoft’s Hololense and other virtual reality headsets are examples of how to access information whether for work or entertainment using no screens in their traditional understanding. Google glasses are too extraordinary for the beginning of the 21st century. However, developers and the management are certain about the success and demand of Google Glasses in the future.
Retina displays mean projecting the image directly onto a person’s retina. It may be accomplished using lenses or, similar to Google Glasses, glasses, which will send the picture into the eye. Another way to provide screenless experience is using biometrics. For instance, Diebold, US ATM manufacturer, announced “Irving”, a new mobile-driven screenless ATM already in 2016 at Money 2020. Using the mobile application, the user submits the transaction application, approaches the ATM and using the retina screener receives the cash. “EyeLock believes that the age of carrying plastic cards and remembering passwords is just about over and the era of unfettered personal access through biometric technology is just beginning,” said Anthony Antolino, chief marketing and business development officer at EyeLock LLC. “For banking and other applications, EyeLock’s iris identity authentication solutions are not only highly secure but [also] very easy to use.”
brain in control
The synaptic interface is the most “magical” method out of all screenless solutions so far. The electrode-covered cap can monitor brain waves and transmit the information directly to the brain. Receiving information is not the only ability. Add to that controlling the objects with thoughts and head movements. How close are we to experience Synaptics? Not in the nearest future. However, there is an ear-less “headphone” set BatBand, which has no speakers and it sends the sound directly to the brain through the skull. The BatBand bone-conduction headphones are created by Studio Banana Things. The revolutionalising ear-less headband caused the worldwide “wow”-effect and is available on the Kickstarter. The BatBand brings personalized listening experience which does not interfere with the outside world, allowing to listen to music and be present in the real world at the same time.
The synaptic experience in not only for receiving information but it also will allow to control the world around us. The Puzzlebox Orbit is a helicopter, which is controlled through the brain. With the EEG headset, the user can fly the Orbit with his or her thought. However, it is not as easy as it sounds and requires full concentration and a training period.
Looks like fun entertainment? The “Future of Business: Australia 2040” report by Mind Your Own Business sees that solutions will revolutionise working places and business already in a decade from now. Simon Raik-Alen, the chief technology officer of MYOB, predicts: “You will sit in virtual auditoriums, next to three-dimensional light-based images of your colleagues from around the globe watching a hologram on the stage of someone giving a talk. And you will do this just as easily as you gather in the office today.”