Rich Warren | A glance at the future | Science-technology | – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

One of Editor & Publisher’s ‘10 That Do It Right 2021’
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Cloudy. Slight chance of a rain shower. Low near 35F. NNW winds shifting to E at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: December 27, 2021 @ 6:32 am

“Fast away the Old Year passes,” so the carol goes. Fast comes the in-person 2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That spurs my survey of future post-2022 innovations for your electronic cottage and garage. I’ll report on CES at its conclusion, but read on for near and far term technologies that will add sparkle or expense to your life.
Imagine a child being born with the hospital not charging a flat birthing fee, but billing parents monthly for as long as the child lives. That’s technology’s new paradigm. Many new cars now leave the lot with subscriptions for various features not essential for basic transportation. Toyota recently started charging monthly for remote start and smartphone control of certain models.
Currently, all TV manufacturers track your viewing habits, selling that information to marketers. Most also insert advertising in discrete and sometimes not-so-discrete ways when using smart-TV features. That’s how they keep TV prices so reasonable. Don’t be surprised if a few years down the road, you not only pay your cellular provider for connectivity, but also the smartphone manufacturer for various features on your phone. They already sell your data to marketers. Cell carriers already charge a monthly fee for enhanced spam and nuisance-call filtering.
Video conferencing and calling will follow the same trajectory as when HDTV supplanted old-fashioned analog TV. The pandemic accelerated the development of higher-quality video meeting and chat. Three-dimensional chats are coming. These advances will snowball for those blessed with true broadband high-speed internet.
That brings us to the next good news. Full broadband internet will become universal in most rural areas of Illinois, whether by fiber or satellite, within two years. Thanks to the recent infrastructure legislation, don’t be surprised to see a fiber-trenching machine on a farm road near you. For those in high-density areas, expect 2 gigabit speeds. That will permit downloading one hour of uncompressed audio in about five seconds.
While the best internet connection will remain fiber (or fiber with wireless the last few hundred feet), everything else in the electronic cottage will migrate to wireless. Some wireless products will be powered by the radio signal that already provides data. Thus, in the not-too-distant future, your video-surveillance cameras might not need a battery or wired connection.
Kiss farewell to cable and satellite entertainment packages, along with their attendant boxes. The internet will deliver all content. You won’t need a digital video recorder because the internet delivers content on demand, 24/7.
The science fiction of just a few years ago will materialize. Luminescent walls in your home will change color at your whim. Incorporated seamlessly into those walls will be display devices for TVs, computers and smartphones.
Affordable, short-distance electric air-taxi flights will whisk you from Champaign to Bloomington or possibly even Chicago. Don’t confuse these with your own flying car or helicopter, which will be technologically possible, but not socially or logistically practical. Similarly, the contrarian in me predicts no autonomous, truly self-driving personal vehicles before 2030.
As far as exciting gadgets, smartphones will far surpass the Apple watch, combining totally voice-controlled in-ear electronics with video displayed wirelessly on smart glasses, such as those being hawked by Facebook. For better or worse, many will wear these all of their waking hours.
Every object with wheels, from shopping carts to baby strollers to walkers for the mobility impaired, will contain tiny motors to propel those wheels. Whoever envisioned a decade ago that nearly every child’s scooter would be motorized?
Before you consider the electronics industry benevolent, here’s an incident from 1924. A cartel of light-bulb manufacturers colluded to limit the life span of bulbs to about 1,000 hours, which was noticeably shorter than the standard at that time. Might LED lights last forever without manufacturers designing them to fail after the warranty expires? Happy New Year.
Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. Email him at [email protected].
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