Author: Yogi Schulz

Personal computers have rocketed forward in performance and capability. The cost of memory is no longer a constraint. Displays are larger and flatter with crisper images. Disk drives are cheaper and hold vast amounts of information.
Today’s personal computer is significantly more powerful and cheaper than even last year’s model. It also crashes less often and it’s easier to perform basic software maintenance and update tasks. It handles graphic and audio files with ease. Some models also store and manipulate video with ease.

All these recent advances are not the end. Even more fascinating technologies lie just around the corner. We can expect miniaturization, ease-of-use and price-performance improvements to continue. Here’s how the future could unfold.

Desktop Computers

Desktop computers probably won’t become much cheaper than they are today. The future will however, bring improved capability.

We can expect the multi-media capability of the Media Center PC, which makes it easy to watch video and listen to music, to become part of most desktops. In support of more entertainment features, we can expect improvements in the software that indexes and manages our personal video and audio archives in conjunction with what’s available to us on the Web.

For PC gamers, we’ll see more immersive visualization. This term means that game players will wear stereoscopic goggles to view 3-D images to create the illusion of playing games while immersed in a 3-D space with other characters, players and the scenery. In its most exotic form, the 19 inch game display of today will be replaced by a game room where a room-filling dynamic 3-D image is displayed by a set of carefully aligned projectors.

To move large multi-media files between disk and memory and back, we’ll see the faster bus speeds of expensive servers become available in every-day personal computers. To improve reliability and simplify problem diagnosis and repair, we’ll see the constant monitoring features of servers become available for personal computers.


Laptops can’t become much smaller because our fingers need a minimum keyboard size and our eyes need a minimum display size.

Tomorrow will bring thinner and lighter laptops without loss functionality or performance. The bulky AC/DC converter with its lengthy electrical cord will disappear into the laptop. Keyboards will turn into images on the work surface that we tap with our fingers.


Today’s LCD displays, while offering big advances over yesterday’s bulky CRT’s, have brightness and viewing angle limitations. In the future, we’ll see these limitations removed.

We’ll see laptops with 2 screens, like some cellular phones, only larger, so that we can collaborate more easily. On some laptops, the LCD display will be replaced by a projector that can display the image on any convenient surface.

Further out, we’ll see flat displays that can be rolled up for ease of storage or transportation.

Identity Management

We’re becoming overwhelmed by the number of userids and passwords we need to manage and update as they expire. First we’ll see the use of smart cards that contain much more data and are more difficult to forge.

A new technology that recognizes us by the individual pattern of our keystrokes may become prevalent. Its huge advantage is that it does not require new hardware components be added to our computers.

In the future, we’ll see more fingerprint scanners built right into our computers. Once this identity verification becomes part of most web sites, we can abandon our cumbersome userids and passwords.

Further out, voiceprint identification may become the reality that the science fiction movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” displayed way back in 1968.

Smarter Networks

Today’s home networks are quite simple to establish and maintain. However, as the number of networked devices increases to include the burglar alarm, the stereo, the refrigerator, the microwave and the family automobiles, dynamically re-configurable networks will become more commonplace to avoid turning family members into busy system administrators.

We’ll see throughput and security improvements in wireless networks that overcome the limitations of WiFi that we observe today.

Improvements in self-configuration and dynamic re-routing around trouble spots in wired network traffic will enhance the original vision for the Internet.

Standards to enable devices to discover each other on local area networks and establish communication will become more robust. This emerging technology dramatically reduces the need for network administrators.

Media Convergence

The expected convergence of televisions, telephones and personal computers has received a lot of attention for many years now. Mostly, it appears we are making progress in baby steps. For example, the integration of the personal computer with the television set has been attempted several times and met with miserable failure. Remember the early versions of WebTV? Perhaps its latest incarnation as MSN TV will finally catch on in hotels and homes.

We’re observing the beginnings of convergence through the ability to pick up e-mail on cell phones and voice mail on our computers. Some hotels now offer web surfing on their televisions through a wireless mouse and keyboard.

Tomorrow media convergence is likely to deliver a long-sought goal, the delivery of video to the home on demand. The huge network capacity demands of video, even when compressed, have slowed the dreams of many entrepreneurs who’ve tried to deliver movies on demand.


Perhaps the future won’t be about the advances in the devices that I’ve described above. Instead computing could become a utility even more ubiquitous than ATM’s are today. Access will be achieved on demand via a fingerprint or a smart card. Our personal desktop will be accessible to us anywhere through technologies like Citrix and the Sun Java Card. We won’t lug laptops or PDA’s around with us anymore.

In which direction does the future of computing lie? No one knows, but computing will offer us a richer and more stimulating experience whichever way it unfolds.


Laptop personalizationDavid Kushner, writing on Technology Review’s group blog sings the virtues of personalization:

All-in-one PV EnvelopesA Newly Electric Green – Sustainable Energy, Resources and Design

The Future of the Laptop According to IntelBy Rob Enderle February 24, 2004,1759,1541376,00.asp

The Future of Application Access: Leave your Laptop at HomeBrian Madden July 8, 2004

Java Card TechnologyJava Card technology provides a secure environment for applications that run on smart cards and other devices with very limited memory and processing capabilities. Multiple applications can be deployed on a single card, and new ones can be added to it even after it has been issued to the end user. Applications written in the Java programming language can be executed securely on cards from different vendors.

Input device: Virtual Laser Keyboard