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September 23, 2008

Vision of the future

ESPOO, Finland – Nokia Research Center”s chief visionary, Leo Kärkkäinen, summed up the chief, erm, reckons his job is about ‘finding the seeds of the future in the present’ and ‘searching for trends that’ll affect billions, but are barely visible now’. Sounds sensible, but some of his visions for the future are pretty out there.

Think your mobile device is already pretty feature packed? It’s not a patch on what we can expect to see in the future. Step forward slightly and we’re looking at a world of mass solar charging, home back up servers and ad hoc sensor networks (all of this stuff is already happening, if you think about it). Go a little further though and always on communications (via optical fibre), home robots, self driving cars and 3d printers at home form some of the wonders we’re facing down in the next ten years. It’s not all as mad as it sounds.

Leo also reckons products will have their own memory. Not the kind of memory we can stuff with pictures and the like, he’s talking about products with a sort of conciseness that know what they need to do when they’re to be recycled.

And finally, we’ll see the back of the user manual. According to Leo “If you need a manual, then the system doesn’t behave in a proper way”. Here, here!

Most importantly though, Leo is as big on sensors as Bob was. This is clearly a developing trend. One of the biggest chuckles in Leo’s presentation came from his “Happy City Map”. But he’s serious. Using stress sensors built into the device, he reckons cities could easily be mapped, showing where the happiest/less stressed people are. With enough people using the devices it’s not unrealistic.