In 2010 Pocket-lint tried to imagine what the future would be like in 2015. Today is yesterday's future, but did we get it right? We've revisited three of the "future diary" pieces we wrote 5 years ago to find out.
Chris Hall's Future diary: 31 March 2015
I love my commute: I walk 3 metres from my back door into my garden office. I've been a home worker for nearly 10 years now, as many more people are. Continued investment and enhancement of the broadband infrastructure has changed a great many things, making working from home more of a reality. It is no longer seen as "bunking", because it can be as interactive as any office ever was. Government pressure to reduce emissions from big business has seen tighter, more efficient, working practises and a huge reduction in commuter culture, fuelled by corporate tax breaks, of course.
An easy prediction founded in common sense. I still work at home and although there hasn't been a huge leap in internet connectivity, for many, increased speeds and bandwidth has enabled new services, both for home entertainment and businesses. Pressure to reduce emissions remain.
"The office" is still very much there, but for many, the need to occupy a desk for 8 hours, without interacting with those around you, isn't there any more. People are still adjusting to issues like IT support, briefings and meetings, and dealing with a changing social dynamic, but the flexibility it offers can't be denied. It's not all good though: sales driven workers miss the banter that drives a busy team and it is affecting morale and productivity.
The office space hasn't changed much though, except I don't have to dock anything. I have a hybrid data server offering local and cloud file access, some shared with colleagues, some private. The cloud is still a vulnerable place, so as well as my online backups, I still have a server in the cupboard under the stairs - belt and braces approach.
The advent of cloud computing was already underway in 2010, but there are now many mainstream services that seamlessly let you move from device to device. Google typifies with Google Docs, but in 2015, we've seen a big step forward from Microsoft with Office 2015, meaning you can work on cloud-stored documents collaboratively across a range of devices.
I reach out to the cinemascope monitor, which springs into life. It's a single curved unit that presents everything in windows. It fills most of the width of my desk and would be really dominating if it wasn't transparent. The display has its own OS, acting as a bridge between anything you feed in and what you see. I just slide the windows around and bring what I want to the centre, I can zoom, send things right to the peripherals, view what ever I want. It will let me feed in more than one source, so I can be working on different platforms in the same display, which saves a load of time, and I can pull applications off those platforms to work alongside in the display. Last night's Call of Duty: Roman Warfare 2 session is still sitting paused on one side. That'll be a distraction today, for sure.
In 2013 there was a huge boom in curved displays, especially in television, with companies like Samsung and LG really pushing this format. So there isn't (yet) a platform agnostic translucent display, but in 2012 we saw Samsung showcase a transparent Smart Window that realises the type of technology predicted here.
I need to catch-up with Stuart, I punch him up on Skype. He's in a conference with a couple of people I know. I flick the conference across my screen: it's like peering through an opaque window. I can see Stuart clearly, the others are dimmed and the words are indistinguishable. I knock on the conference window, the dimmed heads turn and I'm in, in glorious high-definition, smiles all round. Video conferencing is so much more productive and with real time online translation, people can talk in their native language with only a hint of a delay. One day it will be seamless, like Douglas Adams' Babel Fish.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Skype Translator, available for preview since December 2014. Otherwise, sadly, the Skype video conferencing experience is still very much the same as it was before. And yes, I still work with Stuart Miles.
My mobile phone diverts everything through my desk when I walk into the office. Incoming calls alert me on my display: what starts as a voice call often turns into a video call on my screen, face time is as important as ever. I never take video calls when out of the office though - I never felt it gave me the privacy that I wanted on a call. Usefully I can reject an incoming call with a voice message at the touch of a button. Not a new system, but much more personal than before.
Apple's Continuity was introduced in 2014 with OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, allowing closer integration between Mac computers and iOS mobile devices. Windows 10 will offer Continuum, and although you have to physically connect your mobile device, will give you a desktop experience through a connected display.
My calendar pings up a meeting, so I grab my phone and head out of the door, everything behind me flipping over to passive standby. I jump into my VW, which detects my phone, and pulls the appointment details onto the dash display, offering route navigation and alerting me to traffic on route. It is the latest Golf model, using VW's new 2.0l GCI engine which uses both HCCI and spark ignition cycles in the engine for power and efficiency, depending on the driving conditions.
The seamless hand-off between mobile devices and cars is a reality, with BMW iRemote, for example, extending the i3 and i8 into your pocket, letting you send destinations to you car, as well as remotely control various options. TomTom extends its satnav devices to mobile devices and then you have services like Google Now, pulling the location from your calendar invites and giving you travel updates.
Sadly, there are no commercial engines for HCCI yet, but ironically, one of the characteristics of HCCI is low NOx emissions, and with VW in the middle of an emissions scandal… just saying.
On arrival I touch my phone to the sensor on reception and a printer spits out a visitor ID for me. Meetings are meetings, the stewed tea tastes bitter, the canapé lunch is never going to be enough. The company is offering a preview showing off their soon-to-be-officially-announced hybrid camera model, offering another blending of DSLR technologies with compact dimensions. This thing isn't going to make an impact in an already congested market and it's another lens system to buy into. I grab some hands-on shots, which are relayed by Wi-Fi to my phone, which sends them via 4G into the back end of Pocket-lint for processing. The embargo says we have to wait to publish, but this company is full of leaks, so everyone knows what is coming. That end of the game will never change.
Cameras have very much continued this trend to the point that we're looking at very compact models from the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Olympus with interchangeable lenses. The tea is still poor, the canapés still miserable. I never did manage an entirely wireless workflow, although you can use a card like Eye-Fi to do that, and all smartphones now offer instant cloud backup for photos.
I head home back to the office, grab a Kraft Dairy Milk from the fridge and look at the collection of emails and voicemails. Technology has taken us so far, but doesn't seem to have given us more time. I decide the best option is to take the fight to Boudica in the defence of Camulodunum. I'm sure this game doesn’t really work, it's just gladius waving…
Kraft found itself in hot water in 2015 over the Cadbury Creme Egg scandal, changing the recipe of the chocolate. Luckily, Dairy Milk is still Dairy Milk. As for that version of Call of Duty, it never made it to Roman times. But if you're after wild gladius waving, then take a look at Ryse: Son of Rome one of the Xbox One launch titles.