Evolving Internet User Experiences
By 2030, everybody and everything will be permanently connected to a network. Needs for more advanced networking technologies will increase drastically to connect higher numbers of objects, higher data transfer rates, pervasive access to information, richer content, etc.
We can summarise this future network paradigm as: anything, anybody, anytime, anywhere on any device. People and objects will become network-dependent. Therefore, network bandwidth and quality will have to increase significantly to support these enhanced levels of connectivity. New and broader quality service requirements will emerge.
In a few decades, effective remote collaboration between professionals will require real-time immersive visualisation (e.g. glasses-free 3D), spatial audio and tactile information, to realize a very high-quality emulation of face-to-face interactions and user experiences.
Distributed teams will therefore focus on the content of their work and not on the technicalities of the collaboration tools. The complexity of the technology will be hidden to the users. This will require user-friendly interfaces that support multi-sensory interactions and new display technologies. It also requires network connections with the speed and responsiveness to enable fluid remote interaction.
These scenarios will be enabled by intelligent data handling. Data will be transformed into smart content by adding metadata during the creation or exchange process. Development of new delivery paradigms will become necessary behind current internet/IP models to better match future content-oriented networks, e.g. ICN (Information-Centric Networking) architectures and CDN (Content Delivery Networks).
Virtualisation will be necessary to link services and data, as well as new ways of handling enormous numbers of connected devices in a cost-efficient way.
Customer analytics will become increasingly relevant for quality assessment and service management. It will be possible to get information about the user, and how much she/he likes or dislikes a service, by combining different sources of information from network- and device-based monitoring systems that collect information both about network properties as well as user behaviour.
1. Future of Data, Technology and the Internet (269) http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/content/future-data-technology-and-internet
2. Future Internet 2020: Visions of an industry expert group (569) http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/content/future-internet-2020-visions-industry-expert-group
3. Consultation on Future Network Technologies Research and Innovation in HORIZON 2020 (570) http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/content/consultation-future-network-technologies-research-and-innovation-horizon-2020
New technologies will support and drive the transition between independent and interdependent networks. By 2020 these networks will be both laid out as public infrastructures and dynamically created by the objects connecting to one another. The content and services they facilitate will be all around us, always on, everywhere, all the time.
But this Future Internet will not be just an evolution of what we have already. Radically new approaches are needed: new architectures; new interfaces; new ways of managing data; new ways of integrating all the different Internet entities – devices, sensors, services, things and, of course, people.
Many objects will have communications capabilities embedded within them and several objects in an ambient environment will create a communications network. This in turn will connect with other communications networks, locally and globally. This is a dramatic change and significant impacts will arise since every industry, in practice, will need to learn to produce communicating objects and the functionalities of the objects will be influenced by these communications capabilities and by the context.
New applications, such as social networking, are changing the way we communicate and, some would argue, re‐engineering society in the process.
There will be new ways of accessing data – more accurate / timely mobile devices, touch screen / surfaces, and wearable computing such as Google glasses and implants.
Personal information will be available to users anywhere, at any time, using highly developed cloud computing, 4G and 5G phones and WiGig (gigabit wifi) hotspots. Connectivity will be reliable, logons will be instantaneous, content quality will be high, and systems will talk to each other. All environments (home, office, car) will be context-aware: systems and devices are able to sense how, where and why information and content are being accessed and respond accordingly. Such approaches will be essential in making sure systems are accessible to everyone, so avoiding digital divides.
But as technological barriers diminish, the implications of the digital blackbox on culture and everyday life will need to be assessed. Such social studies should consider the stances of various societal groups (age, gender, race, education, etc.). The worst outcome would be for such services to be accepted and driven by a part of the population, resulting in changes in the way of living that are welcomed by a few but create adverse reaction from others.
Leading image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.