I've been pondering on the idea of the digital future recently, especially following this week’s announcement of the ‘won’t-even-bother-saying-or-linking-to-it’ device. Given the phone's rather unpredictable 130 year history, any stab at this is clearly pure speculation, so here's a totally fun guess at the next 5-20 years (but scientifically precise of course!) based on Japan, pending innovation projects, industry hearsay, and a sci-fi corrupted imagination (yep, it’s Skywalker’s fault basically!) ..
1. Digital warfare takes place between hardware (e.g. Apple), software (e.g. Microsoft) and service (e.g. Google) providers over who's best positioned to look after the consumer's 'state' - their programs, files, music, movies, documents etc.
2. Service providers win. People no longer store anything on digital hardware devices - multiplication and overlap on different devices makes no sense. People store everything online, and use their mobile/convergence device, home cinema system, home fridge etc. to access this information - seamlessly and flawlessly.
3. Google, Yahoo, MSN and the like in turn become 'databanks' - much like financial Internet banks - who look after/manage your 'life’s worth' (for a healthy sum of course).
4. Databanks and financial banks start to merge, generating a kind of life management service provider that looks after all of your personal stuff.
5. Meanwhile, the virtual world interface starts becoming applied to the real world. Your mobile is akin to a mouse in everyday life - you point it at real objects such as hotels, restaurants, people, and the like, and it delivers real time information on price lists, menu options, reservations, latest offers, etc. It also becomes a great way of storing everyday information, across shopping, health/fitness routines, study and the like.
6. The above model develops so that it’s possible to book reservations, pay for goods etc. from passing observation. Even other people’s clothes become accessible via a little ‘point and click’. Consequently, everyday people become sponsored by brands as real life walking mannequins.
7. Mobile's wither. Instead, small microchips become inserted into your finger and earlobe (serving ear/voice/navigation functions), whilst contact type lenses become your 'visual screen'. People’s lives become digitally enhanced with ‘integrated’ music, sat nav, and various other luxuries.
8. The real world now becomes an advertising medium in itself. Incoming virtual ads are littered throughout the urban environment which you can choose to reject/accept at your leisure. Likewise, ‘virtual urban spam/graffiti’ now supersedes the conventional stuff.
9. Everyday life becomes akin to a computer game - should you desire it. Good behaviours/deeds/rewards in the home and at work score points, and somewhat surprisingly, the whole idea turns out to be an excellent motivational and personal development tool across parenthood, work life, health/diet etc.
10. With the future chugging along nicely a lifestyle polarisation takes place, with a small niche group determined to ‘live out’ life's former luxuries of magazines/comics, brick phones, vinyl music, VHS video, Tetris, and a good ol surf on ‘Google Retro’.