So, my forecast is based on the three whales: wireless connection, SaaS and Cloud Computing.
Meanwhile the development of SaaS (Software as a Service) will be continued. Even now web-technologies allow to create applications that aren’t inferior to the functionality of the usual PC software. SaaS broadens horizons for services commercialization — such services can not be hacked, you can use the same license on different PC, pay for time or number of uses. SaaS will allow managers to save money on the software for workstations and licenses, it will make easy the life of the administrators, security specialists and even developers. And, of course, SaaS will provide users with the new opportunities — data access from any PC or mobile phone, uniform data processing regardless of the platform
What about mobile technologies, SaaS will become the best solution for many problems, like: platform fragmentation, security, data synchronization/storage and hardware.
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Finally, Cloud Computing — a conception whereby the customers can use company computing facilities, disk space and data channels for solving resourse-intensive tasks. The loading between computres, that belong to the same «cloud», is distributed automatically. Thus, user deals with virtual computer, that consists of multiple severs and hides from him all the complexity of the device.
Imagine a workplace in five years: all your media data are located in social networks (well, as for me, in 90% of cases I use social network (vkontakte.ru) as a mediaplayer), documents and mail — on Google servers, online office — on Microsoft ones. It’s quit uncomfortable, not because of passwords and hosts to remember, but because of the data separation. Downloading a photo to upload it to online Adobe editor? Nonsense! The data should be host-based in a system, that guarantees their bacup storage, security and smart access by request. Google has some experience in such technologies (how do you think they keep the monstrous-sized cache of their search engine). On the other hand the system should provide opportunities for web services to edit this data.
Thus, the systems will appear in which it will be possible to login and get access to the user data. Besides that such systems will provide twenty-four-hour access to the multiple services data, that, perhaps, are located on the platform of the same «cloud». Neither the user should worry about anti-viruses, backup, version tracking and resource shortage (for e.g. CPU speed or free disk space).
So, what will become PC in such circumstances? It will become a terminal. You will have terminals at home and at work, and turning them on gives you access to the same environment. Of course, some services may be restricted by terminal id, and UI will be depend on your settings and terminal hardware. And the similar terminal you will get instead of your smartphone..You will get access to all the data, that are now usually stored on a PC, from anywhere in the world. In case you lose or break the phone, you lose nothing, you simply block access to your virtual computer from that terminal.
All the above is rather obvious — it’s already existing trends and tendencies, wich one way or the other are bound to be implemented in the next 8-15 years. Now I shall tell you how I imagine a mobile device in such environment of the future. For that let’s add to the three mentioned technologies the developed NFC/Blutooth technology (connection and data exchange between two mobile devices on small distances) and induction chargers.
There are many form factors of such devices and everybody can choose a model that meets his own needs and lifestyle. Unfortunately we don’t always succeed. In addition, user preferences may change during the day depending on the type of activities, applications to use or location. Everybody sometimes had like to have qwerty keyboard. Or a larger touch screen. But all these characteristics increase the size of the device and in 90% of cases are not in use. So you should buy several devices: a device for work and another for enertainment, and then to synchronize the data between them. Or to choose what is the most important for you. Again the user can not uprade the parts of his hardware. I am sure you familiar with the situation when the model is ideally suited to you, but the camera is too weak, and you can’t change it.
The solution of all these problems is device modularity and the first step in it is using of headsets. Let’s consider a smartphone: roughly speaking it is a CPU, a screen and a keyboard. Place them in separate modules, that can communicate with each other, transfer data and be charged by induction chargers. Thus, we shall get the intellectual micro environment around us, which can be changed in accordance with our lifestyle.
Terminal block, which contains a CPU, an Internet communication tool and other modules disclosure and connection tools, will hang on the belt, or lie on a table next to the monitor. Its only purpose is to locate and connect the necessary equipment, and ensure its Internet connection. This module provides the link between the virtual user workplace and the means of input / output/ visualization of the user data.
Wireless (perhaps touch) screen block. So, you can carry your screen, that is not larger that those of a smartphone, for making video calls. Then you go to your office and connect the terminal block to the full-fledget 20 inches display. Want more? Connect severals displays at the same time. Are you in travel and have no display with you? Go to the nearest payment terminal and connect to its display. A new means of vizualization (for e.g. Glasses or clocks with displays) is invented? They can be connect to your terminal using standard protocol, and the web-severs, that forms the image would take into account their particular hardware. In case of loss, depreciation or upgrade of your screen (and of any other module) you have only to change this single module.
Keyboard block. In travels I need only two buttons: «accept call» and «hang up». Place them on the clock. Want more, and the touch screen doesn’t fit – take a wireless mini keyboard with (or without) a display. Are you writg blogs or working at the office? Connect a PC keyborad and a mouse.
The device modularity principle will allow third part contributors to take experiments with input devices (with their sizes, design and layout).
To such a smart environment it is possible to connect moduls of any functionality: sensors, detectors, GPS-modules. Moreover, even stationary modules can connect and interact dynamically: for e.g. Getting in your car, the terminal unit becomes the core of the car navigation system and gets information about amount of fuel, speed, condition. The car may have a navigation screen, that recieves the map data from the web, and you can connect or whatever depending of your need. The terminal module will able to read and translate information from the static information modules. Thus, you will get a fresh restaurant menu while just entering into it, or you can read about all the data in the supermarket stores and shares in them right at the entrance. Dream on this theme can be quite long.
Is it possible? I think it is. Of course, the development of the wireless connection, SaaS and Cloud computing will not be even. For example, if SaaS progres will overcome those of wireless data transfer, we shall get a little bit different situation in IT. There are not direct ways, but the common trend will be maintained and first or last we shall get to the described intellectual user environment.
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