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Tanveer Mohammad

Tanveer Mohammad is COO at Telenor India Communications.

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How Innovation Would Shape the Future of Communication

Communications has been the basis of our social fabric. From smoke signals to carrier pigeons, from telegraphs to telegram, the way we communicate with each other has changed significantly over time, thanks to advancements in technology.

We all know mobile phones as a medium to stay connected with our loved ones but the tiny device that we carry in our pockets is changing the world. It is closely embedded in our day-to-day lives than ever before. What seems natural today was unthinkable less than 50 years back. People would laugh when told about a device without wires that will allow not only to talk but watch movies, do banking transaction and much more. But that is human psyche. We are ‘wired’ not to believe what is not there in physical form, in front of our eyes. Remember Copernicus and Galileo facing the wrath for talking about science – aeroplanes, trains that will run on iron rails, earth being round and not being flat.

At every stage of our evolution one set of people have dared to think about the shape of the future while others, fearing the unknown, have tried to take it as it comes. But one thing everyone agrees is that change is the only constant. Even as we read this, world has changed and transformed itself into something different. We call this innovation – our ability to think afresh and create something new, which has made our lives easy and simple. Something like Google or 3D printing which can reprint anything we can think of. From human organs to fighter planes anything can be “printed” and at times it seems we are just short of infusing life into these print outs.

Going forward too the process of change and innovation will continue. We can take intelligent guesses but only time will tell in what shape and size these innovations will impact our lives tomorrow.

Evolution in the way we communicate

Communications has been the basis of our social fabric. From smoke signals to carrier pigeons, from telegraphs to telegram, the way we communicate with each other has changed significantly over time, thanks to advancements in technology. Today the new age smart devices not only enable us to communicate but help us do a lot more. Who would have ever imagined that a small device can put the world in our palm.

But imagine a situation where the smartphones also disappear one day like the Telegram years back. Yes, our ever changing needs might make them historical devices. Going by the insight from Ericsson Consumer Lab study, smartphones adoption is expected to go into extinction soon and will be replaced by artificial intelligence which doesn’t even require a Smartphone or a tablet.

A Smartphone may be replaced with a more compact variant or just face extinction by a device as small as a ring. The ring can project a screen into thin air and we could just select whatever we want and connect with whomsoever we want in a jiffy. The existence of any hardware device could be completely eliminated in the future with the onset of such innovations. With fitness and wellness getting in as an essential regime, there are already predictions on how wearable technology will become a mass product in the times to come offering one stop mobile solutions to all. We could possibly enter into a world of voiceless communication as everything would be done by the devices and sensors.

A sneak peek into the future 

Changing customer needs and demands has been fuelling innovation all across the world. Device manufacturers and service providers are being challenged to come up with new, affordable and relevant products that offer more value for the money spent. Lot of Companies are investing in R&D, gathering consumer insights and using business analytics to get the market pulse right. We have already seen IOT, Cloud and Artificial Intelligence playing a key role in the way we communicate. There may be a stage when people can control home settings using Artificial Intelligence. AI will be built into buildings themselves, and one can talk to the building and ask for adjustments in temperature or lighting.

Elon Musk thinks we need to add a digital layer of intelligence to our brains to avoid becoming pets to Artificial Intelligence in future.

Today this may sound like a typical sci-fi narrative straight out of the Star Trek movies but we are not far from devices that can be embedded in our bodies encoding and decoding our thoughts and communicating in a fraction of second to the respective person. The way we operate our computers and laptop through our fingers, we can communicate to devices through our mind, which may be a kind of Telepathy.

Future belongs to the Innovators:

As per Ian Pearson, advancements in nanotechnology will make it possible to plug our brains into computers and live in a simulated world. It may be quite possible to link human brain to a computer making him believe that they are in a virtual space.

Google’s head mounted Project Glass is another innovation to cut down requirement of ancillary devices. It would allow users to access music or audio messages without headphones or speakers simply through the contact with the head.

Virtual reality may take a big lead in developing a progressive education system. Students may get attracted to this form of studying than going through textbooks. Google’s Expedition App is the first step in this regard and in future we may see schools adapting this methodology for teaching various subjects.

Hyundai recently created an Exoskeleton suit to make lifting of heavier things easier and we may soon have such customised suits made of polymer gel to increase strength. Technology is changing drastically and we are seeing innovation at the helm of everything. From delivery drones, Hyper loops, Machine driven cars to advancement in prosthetic science, we will see these innovative transformations happening in the coming years making this world smarter and better.

Internet was, is and will always be 

But amid all this uncertainty, relevance of Internet or data network seems to be constant and is bringing out the best of our innovative thinking. Though the access device or the medium to consume data might change with time; the existence of Internet shall always persist.

While all this sounds like a dream, nobody can actually predict which would be a star technology in the coming years, we can take intelligent guesses but only the prevailing ground realities will define the success or failure of a new offering. Identifying a technology for 2050 is more like crystal gazing based on the current trend lines. The changes are happening faster than we anticipate. It will not be a surprise if things get fast forwarded by 20-25 years and in the next 5-6 years we might get to experience the identified technologies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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