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10 enthralling visions for the future of computing

Ian Paul | Oct. 12, 2015
Check out what's coming: Virtual and augmented reality, gesture and facial recognition, holograms and more.

And who can forget the impressive Plastic Logic e-reader demos that popped up at conferences and tradeshows around 2008-2009? Plastic Logic even gave its e-reader a name, Que, but the product ultimately failed to make it to market.

Microsoft Band Futuro edition

microsoft vision smart bracelet
Credit: Microsoft

Another product from Microsoft’s latest concept video reveals a slick potential far-future evolution for the company’s Band fitness tracker. In the future, Microsoft Band isn’t just a rubbery step-tracker, but a full wraparound display that turns into a stylish piece of jewelry when not in use.

This theoretical wearable can also display email, calendar invites, and maps; accept gesture input; double as a digital key card; and unfold to work as—you guessed it—Microsoft’s infamous smartphone card.

Data toss

microsoft vision screen throwing 
Credit: Microsoft

Who needs USB cords, email, or apps like AirDroid? In Microsoft’s future (which clearly takes some cues from Intel’s vision of a wire-free PC), sending data from your tablet to a wall-sized computer display will be as simple as a flick, Minority Report­-style.

You may not be able to do an actual fling gesture today, but sending certain kinds of data between devices seamlessly and wirelessly already exists. You can send content from a tablet or laptop to your Xbox with just one tap via the Xbox SmartGlass app, for example, and Google’s Chromecast as well as the upcoming Chromecast Audio perform similar tricks.

Life in 3D

Don’t worry, children of the 1980s: The future may still rock holograms and 3D displays.

A California-based start-up called Ostendo is working on a product called the Quantum Photonic Imager that promises to be as futuristic as it sounds. The technology, according to a 2014 report by The Wall Street Journal, is capable of taking six chips laid together to produce a glasses-free 3D image of green dice spinning in the air.

That’s a long way from real-life Dejarik (the holographic board game in the original Star Wars movie) but it’s a start. Ostendo had originally hoped to roll out its 3D chip in the second half of 2015, according to the WSJ, but that goal was a little too ambitious.

dejarik falcon
R2-D2 and Chewbacca playing Dejarik in Star Wars. Credit: Wookieepedia

First, Ostendo plans to release a pint-sized projector for large 2D videos in 2016. Its ultimate aim for market-ready holographic 3D applications is a little further down the road.

That, of course, could be said for pretty much every ambitious computing vision detailed in this article. Nevertheless, the future is coming and it looks awfully exciting—even if holograms and virtual worlds aren’t quite reality yet.


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