Back in May, I attended a Mobile Monday Beijing event in conjunction with Beijing Design Week. The organizer of Mobile Monday, Orange Labs, presented their vision of the future, where technology would evolve to become seamlessly integrated into everyday life. From waking up and checking the weather and traffic conditions to walking into a clothing shop and seeing what you would look like in different outfits, projected onto screens as you browse. With the pace of technological innovation and with society increasingly using digital devices as an extension of themselves, this vision of the future is not unlikely.

Yesterday I stumbled across another vision of the future, through the eyes of researches at Microsoft. Titled, “Microsoft Productivity Future Vision” it also shows the endless possibilities of technology that can be applied to life and make it easier and more efficient. Much of the trend centers around mobility and connectivity, meaning being able to do everything without needing to be stationary. Smart-phones like the iPhone is the beginning of what will happen. Check out the video:

One of the most interesting ideas I found, was when the man in a Hong Kong subway points his glass device to a screen showing a busker in another country and being able to point and click to donate money virtually. Who knows how that works practically, but this is a vision of the future where anything can happen. Another cool idea was being able to see what’s inside the fridge through an invisible door, without having to open it first, hence saving energy.

One argument against such trends, even from an interactive designer is that, is such technology that limits movements mainly to a finger swiping a good thing? As human, we have incredibly powerful senses and muscles. The question raised, suggests that such a future depicted in the video, will devalue our ability to really feel, respond and react to things if everything is simply a projection. Does this mean we will evolve into just a brain, legs and a finger?

On the contrary, supporters and pioneers of things like augmented reality believe that such technology can only help us interact more with the real world. Instead of peeling away the physical world, augmented reality will layer on top of the real world and enhance our ability to work smarter with it. I agree more with this point and am truly excited to see the visions of Microsoft and Orange Labs become reality.

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.

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