If a child is born today, what everyday tech that we take for granted today, will have disappeared by the time they are 10?
10 years isn’t very long in overall historical terms, but in technology, it’s a very long time indeed. Especially as we move up the exponential curve and change gets faster and faster. If you were to look back at the last 10 years, as an example, most PCs had floppy discs in 2002 – but they had pretty much disappeared by 2007. Ask a 10 year old today what a floppy disc is and they’ll have no idea. Although, interestingly, the dear old floppy is still very much in evidence – it’s still used pretty much as the universal “save” command icon in computers today.
Here’s some predictions for you to think about. Maybe you have some too, or disagree. In which case, please leave a comment and we’ll compare notes in a decade’s time. Please note that my methodology here is gut-feel forecast, having observed tech trends and a generalist knowledge across many industries. I’m not using “inside knowledge” and in most cases, not even using current trends to forecast them.
So, 10 things that 10 year olds won’t know about or will never do in 2022.
By that, I mean using a physical keyboard to input data using the original technique developed back in the 1860’s. By 2022, the vast majority of devices will be touchscreen – at the very least. However, I actually think that new input methodologies will be mainstream by then, which are easy to learn for 10 year olds and will be widely adopted among young people. My money is on a combination of gesture and voice.
OK, there may well be some quaint and old-fashioned people who steadfastly stick to typing in data, so there will be some uses and indeed, some of these people may well still be using the PC. It’s just not going to make a lot of sense to a 10 year old and that’s what we’re talking about here.
2. Getting Lost
This is already becoming increasingly unlikely in 2012, with navigation built into our mobiles and our cars. Actually, I think this is a bad thing generally as there’s something quite poetic about just wondering around a strange place.
A 10 year old will also completely have lost the ability to navigate by knowledge of say, their home city or via a map, unless they consciously learn an old-fashioned skill – a little like taking up archery today.
Controversial this one, I appreciate. But we’re already seeing the rise and rise of free messaging systems – see Tomi’s blog for more info.
Tomi also points out that there’s not much effect on sms yet, but then, the nature of exponential means that there wouldn’t be – yet. In fact, sms usage would only have to decline by a barely noticeable 0.1% now, in order to disappear completely by 2022. If we see a 1.56% decline by 2016, we know that we’re on track.
I would stress again though, that it’s not going to disappear necessarily. Just be irrelevant for those 10 year olds in 2022.
Pain management will be moving into its golden age within 10 years. Better drugs based on the individual DNA is one reason. But constant health monitoring via our mobile device will mean that the medication arrives before the pain kicks in.
5. Communication with New Borns
Every parent gets to learn with a little experience if a baby needs changing, is tired or is hungry. I think there’s a good chance that our mobiles will be able to do that translation for us, providing basic communication between children and adults.
If our 10 year old has a new baby sibling in 2022, that form of parental intuition may no longer be used.
6. Running out of Battery
If the promise of mobile is to be delivered, battery tech has to keep up. In the future, no power means no entering your house, accessing the digital world or being able to pay for anything, as an example.
Maybe it’s going to be as simple as always having two batteries, but it’s likely that there will be a breakthough by then.
7. Digital and Analogue Worlds Combine
Today, we’re pretty definite about when we’re online or in the analogue world, even when in the most immersive online gaming experience.
I think 10 year olds in 2022 will not longer make the same distinction and just regard the whole thing as “living”. Better controls, gear and graphics will partly achieve the result of making digital as realistic as analogue. But the rise of Augmented Reality, accessed by wearable devices such as Google Glasses and later, contact lenses will merge the two realities completely.
Huh? You once carried around bits of paper to pay for stuff?
9. Buying Toys
Most toys and hobbies in 2022 will be downloaded, modified and personalised and then 3D printed from your home printer, or at the very least, your neighbourhood 3D printing shop.
Toys – another industry about to be hugely disrupted. It’s like Blockbuster – 10 years between success and bankruptcy – and they could have been Netflix if they’d understood how fast exponential moves at the end of a cycle.
Our 10 year olds will be able to converse very fluently via their mobile device to anyone in the world, wherever they are. Of course, this doesn’t negate the skill of being fluent in another language, as much of the culture of a society is wrapped up in its language. But for tourism purposes, “please” and “thank you” will be fluent enough, as your phone will do the rest.
There’s lots of other things I could have gone for, such as the ubiquity of cloud computing making “back up” and “upload” redundant – it’ll happen automatically. But I’ve tried to think a little bigger and more outrageously, although I still think that there’s a good chance of all these happening.
When you’re pondering these trends, it’s important to understand the nature of exponential growth. I wrote a little about it here, at Ballpark Ventures new website. But the basic idea is that the majority of the growth comes towards the end and it’s barely noticeable at the beginning. Linear thinking won’t help you much when mulling the medium term future.