Author: Yogi Schulz
Convergence is the technology trend that is meeting our ever increasing whims and desires. Over time we expect our gadgets and appliances to communicate more easily, hold more data, weigh less and cost less. Convergence is the term used to describe how various technologies are melding together into more interesting and capable products.
For example, cell phones from Nokia and Motorola now take pictures, play music and show video trailers in addition to making and receiving phone calls. That’s convergence of three previously distinct technologies.
A new generation of refrigerators, like the LG Internet Refrigerator, shows television, plays music, surfs the Web, handles scheduling and e-mail and calls service if a part is about to fail. It probably also keeps food cold. That’s convergence among many distinct technologies including video, audio and data.
Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) represent the convergence of various technologies to manage e-mail, play music, handle telephone calls and take pictures. Soon PDA’s will incorporate GPS for improved navigation in the urban jungle.
What does the convergence of these various technologies hold in store? Instant messaging will become as common in business as it is among teenagers. Video on demand will finally move from a tantalizing dream to a widely available service. Personal audio and video conferencing will move from glitch prone to become simple and easy. Today’s gulf between computing and home entertainment will become indistinguishable.
Convergence increases our communications choices, widens our entertainment options and makes information more easily accessible at a lower, more appealing price point. Here are a few examples of the benefits of convergence.
Computers for managing digital data emerged from a few specialized facilities to a ubiquitous presence on almost every desk and in every appliance. Control systems of cars, home alarms, sewing machines, game consoles and elevators have all converged on computers.
Computers were the first device to make the leap from analog to digital technology that is a prerequisite to convergence. Initially, that leap made computers incredibly expensive and rare. Now even the most data intense applications like medical imaging and satellite mapping rely solely on the convergence of digital computing and storage technologies.
In the future, today’s distinctions among data, audio, video and graphics will be eliminated. That convergence will make computers more useful and easier to use. One early example is a shopping cart computer that tracks purchases, highlights specials in the current aisle with a picture, shows the route to a specific product using GPS and enables shoppers to send a wireless message to store employees.
Telephone calls aren’t placed by spinning a disk anymore. We push the numbered buttons.
The telephone network was the first large-scale network. Now telephone networks are converging with data networks through the adoption of Internet Protocol (IP). As a result, the major telephone carriers like Telus and Bell and a few startups like Vonage are offering Voice over IP (VOIP). VOIP is the product of the convergence of telephone and computer networks.
The convergence of the cell phone with PDA’s is already common place with devices like BlackBerries, Treos and SmartPhones. A related example of convergence is MSN Messenger that uses computers for communication. This service has moved beyond simple text to offer voice and even video communication.
The next generations of telephones will likely send and receive calls based on the convergence of three different communications technologies. It will operate as a cordless phone, a WiFi phone or a cell phone. The phone will make the technology choice for us on the basis of local reception quality and cost.
The future is likely to bring convergence of e-mail and voicemail. Microsoft Outlook can already sprout a button to play voicemail messages. Some voicemail systems will read our e-mail messages to us.
Perhaps the telephone will finally converge with video. We’ve seen this idea in James Bond movies and in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tandberg and Polycom are among the leaders in offering high-quality audio and video communication devices that are as easy to operate as the telephone.
Convergence makes telephones more functional and easier to use.
Underlying these advances in computers and telephones is the convergence of many distinct communication and storage technologies into one all-encompassing technology.
Into the future, technology convergence will continue to deliver new and interesting devices that simplify communication and improve access to data. Have you seen the latest computerized toaster from Cusinart that promises to never burn your toast even if it’s a bagel?
The Path to Convergenceby Jim Metzler
Practical Enterprise Convergence – Getting There from Herehttp://www.rfgonline.com/subsforum/archive/daily/032502/032602nt.html
Business Impact of Media Convergencehttp://www.iss.nus.edu.sg/iss/catalyst_display.jsp?artid=824&type=9&rid=45&pid=45&cid=25
Convergence – What Is It?Comments on an E.U. Green Paper and their relevance to disability issues
Referenced paper in the link:
Media ConvergenceMinistry Of Information and Broadcasting – Government of India
MPLS VPNs: Delivery of More Advanced ServicesDarren Day Director of Marketing, MCI Asia Pacific
Communications Convergence – Evolving to a Next Generation IP-based Networkhttp://www.butlergroup.com/reports/convergence/Default.asp
HiPath – Practical Convergence TodayProfitability with Communication over IP
Presentation of Siemens IP products and their benefits
Briefly: no special event this week, iTunes video-casting supportWednesday, July 6, 2005, By AppleInsider Staff
History and Evolution
Convergence, Interactive Media, and InnovationDr. Michael J. Murphy
Excellent historical perspective on convergence
Convergence – PC/TV/Radio/Phone – A Personal Historical PerspectiveBy H. L. Siddons, Jr.
IP Telephony and Convergence Evolutionhttp://enterprise.usa.siemens.com/products/solutions/openscape/mainColumnParagraphs/04/document/2GIPInfoTech.pdf
The Past Determines the Futurehttp://www.bcr.com/bcrmag/2004/10/s04s1.php
Convergence TechnologyConvergence Technologies Gain Traction as More Businesses Look to Improve Operations
The Strategic and Financial Justifications for ConvergenceCisco Systems
Urge to ConvergenceMilitary Information Technology Online Archives
Point of View – The Challenges of Media ConvergenceInforte Corporation
Can Convergence Thrive Under Old Laws?http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,116196,00.asp
Chapter II – The impact of convergence on the relevant sectorshttp://www.itb.hu/dokumentumok/green_paper/greenpaper_4.htm
The Convergence of Computers and Video = Digital FusionFrom “A Technical Guide to Teleconferencing and Distance Learning,” 3rd edition
Future of Convergence
Convergence – Coming of AgeBy Wendy Herman, Nortel
Note: See also “Related Information” section
Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Trends: Predictions 2005Deloitte Research
LG Internet Refrigeratorhttp://www.lge.com/products/homenetwork/internetproduct/refrigerator/introduction.jsp
SlipStick – Voice Mail Serviceshttp://www.slipstick.com/addins/services/voice.htm
TANDBERG 1000 MXP for Cisco CallManagerhttp://www.tandberg.net/products/video_systems/tandberg_1000_mxp_cisco.jsp