View Full Version : The Fourth Generation

26th March 2005, 06:01 PM
I've always taken a bit of a general interest in the the trends of technologies, and how particular standards (which brings with them a particular ideology of how things should be done) dominate.

I like gadgets, I used to be an avid reader of T3 and try to keep abreast of recent technology news as best I can. One of the most intriguing things, I think, is the future of computing and its homogenisation with a usually distinct genre of technology spurred on by developments in wireless networking.

The things I am drawing on and discussing, however vague and general, are from an in depth discussion I had with my good friend, who's research interest is in wireless communication. He is currently completing post graduate research and I asked him about what the 'next big thing' will be.

I am also not particularly educated in these matters, I have a general and basic grasp of technological terms. So if I use anything inappropriately, please correct me or add to it.

And he talks about the advent of the 4th Generation. The 3rd Generation was bringing broadband internet to mobile phones, so you could do cool things like video calling others. My friends is doing a bit of work in 'location based' services. And this idea is pretty cool, and if we relate this to location based messaging you can see the potential use of it.

For example, I could be house sharing with a few other people and have to rush out to work. I know that nothing is in the fridge for dinner. My friend Bert is a shift worker, and he won't be awake until around 1 pm. I can't wake him up, as he would be extremely agitated and probably forget. So, I leave a message for him next to the fridge - I basically leave that message 'floating in the ether' until the particular device I want to communicate with, passes through that space. Bert wakes up at 12.30 to find lunch, as he passes by the fridge, his mobile phone goes off and my message alerts him to there being no food in the fridge! Bert promptly goes out to woolies to rectify the situation.

My friend thinks that this new way of communicating will be particularly popular amongst teens and the 18 - 25 age bracket. But that is just an example, it can be expanded further. For example, what if you were in the market for a house, and you enter a particular suburb - and a message alerts you to an auction happening down the road.

This probably doesn't sound particularly exciting, but its the software surrounding this technology that I think is pretty interesting. The standard and quality of wireless will get to a point where it is ubiquitous, and people's product choices will have less to do with its operating system and more to do with whether it can tap into this high speed network and do it reliably. The differentiation between laptop and mobile phone will become inept, as they will merely represent 'mobile devices', so I personally assume that desktop computers will become less and less important as technology improves.

Continued ....

26th March 2005, 06:11 PM
Why will operating systems become less important? In the fourth generation, the key development areas will be databases and internet based applications. The web at present, is open to anyone. You aren't locked into a particular operating system in order to access the web.

This will become even more apparent in the future. Applications and accessing information will be more web based, what operating system you choose won't matter so much. Just as long as it gives you access to these high speed wireless networks and the information it has to offer.

Which led me to ask whether the quality of information will become more 'user pays'. My friend seems to agree, any man and his dog can make a web page. But when the demand for information from 'on the go' people, will mean we want quality information and we will be perhaps more willing to pay for it. The example I will use is the current On 3 services that Hutchinson offer. What is interesting is what the choose to leave out, the current services offer a broad enough spectrum of services to cater to diverse needs, but it doesn't offer everything.

The most exciting prospect about this is the utilisation of low orbit satellites to help facilitate a world wireless network - you could be in the remotest part of Africa and have net access. The world will become so much smaller and as more and more businesses move to utilise e-business, where you are in the world will become less and less important, because you are always connected.

I could be placing a bid on ebay for a vespa that is in Italy, trading stocks on the Nasdaq, communicating with the office in Brisbane and be on a safari holiday with the family.

This sounds pretty interesting, and it lead me to think what is going to be more and more important in the coming future in terms of these 'wireless devices'.

My take on what will be important:

1. Having a camera is going to be essential
2. It must have decent battery life
3. It must be easy to use
4. It must be light weight
5. It must be well-designed in order to rough it out there
6. Most importantly, it must give you access to this network and must do it fast

So what are your thoughts?

26th March 2005, 06:21 PM
Other key points about this 'world wireless network' is where net access will become so cheap, and the technology so widely available, those under-developed nations will have access to the internet.

So it implies that 'service providers' will become more and more important in the future.

The whole point about this is, I think that Apple is better equipped to deal with this technological change of guard better than most computer companies. First, Apple is usually at the forefront of implementing networking and wireless protocols into its products. Second, the design principles and 'ease-of-use' factor mean that Apple will be able to negotiate the consumer needs when this '4th gen' is ushered in. Third, Apple is not just in place to capitalise on its products being technically capable and fashionable - which is an all to important factor in the mobile phone industry at the moment - it is also in place to capitalise on content creation. And I'm talking about the integration of 3gpp in its Quicktime software.

As the demand for information grows, so mobile entertainment is going to be just as important and probably a very profitable area for filmmakers. All these technologies and philosophies are in place for Apple, and in my opinion is already aware that information will be king. Just look at technologies such as 'spotlight'.

That is my wrap up, I might get my friend to clear up anything if its unclear...

26th March 2005, 06:23 PM
all very interesting... send me one when they are affordable.

26th March 2005, 07:01 PM
What gets me about technology today is how much it relies on basic, old fashioned ideas of things which are starting to become unnecessary.

An example would be data storage - it has to be in one place. In the future there wouldn't be a fixed location of your data and files. Whatever device you'd have would access what you need dynamically. Instead of files and folders, data would be dynamic. Instead of a file with information belonging to a program inside of which you need to share a piece of information, the information wouldn't be fixed, and selectable aspects of that data could be manipulated, including shared with no limit of variable limitations.

As storage costs and bandwidth become so cheap, it would be normal to have an even greater than Sun systems have developed, where all you do is go to one of their terminals anywhere in the world, put your smart card in, and your desktop + files appear before you as you left them.

The concept of even files or data residing in one place would disappear, along with the concept of backing up, as the dynamic nature of data would spread it across many systems all automatically keeping in sync with each other and available in the manner bit-torrent operates, with data automatically taken from the most efficient place.

Apple, Sun and Akamai are the 3 companies at the forefront of this kind of information revolution, respectively for their individual contributions towards creating a reality like that above.

27th March 2005, 07:25 PM
All very interesting info guys i agree that apple is definitely at the forefront of the latest in advanced tech. As a example take the ipod photo all the competition had many of the features that the photo has long battery colour screen 60Gb storage and alike so at one stage it appeared that apple was asleep and dropped the ball but no they were waiting for the right time to drop the bomb which they did with the photo. Not only does it have better features but is a snack to use and really looks the part. No other company has so constantly wowed the world just look at all the products they have and are just great and so nice to use, And lets not forget the os panther and dare i say jaguar have killed windows XP and in a few short weeks or so we will have tiger when will the rest of the world catch up?

27th March 2005, 10:10 PM
So far. I have found this idea to be the best in recent years in regards to doing something new with already existing technology.


I have used it in a few places. Although slow, it makes sense and can be very handy for travellers that want to keep their email, settings, desktop backgrounds. etc. all in the same place.

It is slow because of the media it is aimed at working with... USB drives. When installed on a HDD, its performs exceptionally well.

This leads me to my second idea. As most people know. USB is pretty good. Most useful and alot of not so useful devices are made to work on USB.... This includes the great USB thumb drives. The "memory sticks" etc. They storage capacity is increasing. And with that... most are USB 2.0 compatible.

But one this we also all know is that Firewire is better with regards to filetransfer and the like. I've yet to see a Firewire Thumb Drive. I'd buy one. Knowing that my data will be transfered at high speeds, with almost not overhead.

I don't see why we can't have a Hitachi 4GB HDD used in an iPod mini. Used in one of these also.

Surely there would be enough power for such a small device. I know there are some out there with 1GB hdd's in them. But I think this area of technology is moving rather slowly.

Sorry if this is off topic. But currawong's thread has made me want to express what is on my mind.

pipsqeek :thumbup:

27th March 2005, 10:32 PM
I don't think its off-topic. I think it really highlights, that what ever the future holds it will require innovation and invention that is far beyond what we currently know and use.

Moving to this 'wireless world network' and to 'dynamic data storage' is going to require a serious change of thinking, ala 'Life is Random' campaign with the iPod Shuffles. You have to market these ideas in a manner that is appealing to consumers or else they won't buy it. (In the literal and the not-so-literal sense)

Anyway, the Google CEO seems to agree. He believe that old ideas need to give way to 'new inventions' which will create markets that are unparalleled. Anyway, there is this google service you can use on your phone that is very similar to the 'location based messaging', but it requires a bit of proactive action by the user.

Its all very interesting, searching is going to be so important in the future.

27th March 2005, 11:07 PM
This concept is rather interesting, and has already been attempted by Sun with Java, Netscape and a few other in the late 90's. They tried to move all the software onto the internet, i.e. using sun servers, and programs written in Java, which could be accessed anywhere through dumb terminals running Netscape browsers.

There are of course a few differences from the idea proposed by Zefi. Back then, wireless internet was unheard off, internet access speeds and penetration is not what it is like today. Even though with these limitations, they believed that it could be a working business model, of user pays.

What happened though, is that Microsoft got in the way. We all probably know the story behind Netscape and Internet Explorer, where Microsoft released a free version of IE thereby killing the main income stream on Netscape. They also greatly inhibited the spread of Java, through their supposedly "improvement". Which I believe (I might be wrong) removed the cross platform ability of Java, hence limiting it's potential as the platform of a large range of software.

Why you ask, would Microsoft do this? This is because they are in the business to make money, and don't exist to make like easier for consumers. Because in the Sun/Netscape (and I believe IBM) there would be no place for a software giant like Microsoft. Consumers would no longer require a OS, or Office products we will never use. For example text editing, ironically, would be like writing an email in Hotmail. Where all the formatting and editing is done through a web browser and no need for Word.

This is why I think Microsoft is trying so hard to move its business away from Software, and into Home entertainment. As I believe, that they can no longer use their corporate weight to force their competitors into maintaining the current status quo, due to greater legal scrutiny in the US and Europe. And most of understand, Microsoft is no longer really that innovative, they are quite a victim of their own success.

What does this mean for Apple?
As long as Apple stays innovative, and the cutting edge of upcoming technologies (Blue-ray, Bluetooth 2.0, wireless networking, integration), and work towards their goal of an appliance computer (lets be seriously, most people want a computer that just works) and OSX still have a few more evolutions before that happens.

27th March 2005, 11:54 PM
i've also had a thing for new technologies, and like to keep an eye out for anything interesting (i remember reading about bluetooth about 9 years ago thinking it would be pretty useful, and about RFID a few years ago), but a recent article in the smh really highlights one of the endemic problems with IT/tech and new technologies.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/Next/How-IBM-le...0649112012.html (http://www.smh.com.au/news/Next/How-IBM-learned-to-love-risk/2005/03/14/1110649112012.html)

working in IT for non iT companies really makes this apparent as well, but it's really a case of chicken or egg - IT is seen as a tool to serve the business, which to most CEOs etc means keeping a kind of 'evolving status quo' where the 'if it ain't broke' mentality is predominant. when IT is asked to provide something 'new', it is invariably based on current work practices + a few little tweaks for good measure and to justify IT's existence.

if ever IT does come up with some wonderful, usually the paradigm shift required to take advantage of new and useful technology is viewed as too radical, too difficult for users or poor ROI to convince upper management.

and the point of my rant in relation to the OP - again the mindset is too focused on what we have and how to improve on it, instead of taking a 'risk' and seeing where we should be going with all these new ideas. we have all this wireless, increased memory in smaller devices to help us with all the data that we need to access, yet we still have to type the bloody stuff on keyboards, because a phone has number keys, a PDA has letter keys, etc - whatever happened to voice recognition? why isn't VR development being pushed? can you imagine how small a device would be if it used VR. if it's going to be that small, then you could add all sorts of other value adds and the device would still be smaller than any phone now and 10 times more useful.

but someone, somewhere thinks that the 'phone' with those 14 keys is what we should base our new technology on...!? :huh:

btw i realise that tiger is supposedly bringing some VR functionality, so yay for apple :)

29th March 2005, 10:51 AM
It'll be some time before we all use dynamic apps on the internet; initially, that's what .Net was destined to be. A way of having programs that didn't EXIST on your computer; only the license did.

I think the only way we'll get this to be more common is once everyone's on high-speed broadband (1Mb at least) and everyone will have a web identity. Some sort of universal name like MSN Passport used to be, but less hideous implementation. And you'd have webspace, e-mail, bookmarks, etc, etc, all online, much like .Mac.

I see the end being quite the opposite of what people are saying - I see Applications staying on the computers, with the files existing on the net, where you can get to them any time you want.

29th March 2005, 12:09 PM
Zefi - it sounds as though you'd really love the ideas coming out of the Oxygen project at M.I.T. : Bringing abundant computation and communication, as pervasive and free as air, naturally into people's lives. (http://oxygen.lcs.mit.edu/)

I read a paper on this project two or three years ago and it blew my mind away. Much like hearing Frank (http://homepage.mac.com/casanova/) Casanova (http://www.wirelessit.com/keynotes/keynote.cfm?calID=312) in 1996 (when he was head of Apple's Advanced Technology Group) talk about their work in solving the information cloud problem that we all have ... the obvious example was having different address lists on your desktop, laptop and mobile phone. I guess they solved that one :-)