“We are looking at full video lifestreaming in the near future,” said Laurel Papworth, a social media educator, in Pew’s report titled “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age” released today. “Lifestreaming from ultrasound to final illness… will be the killer app.”
Mark Nall, a program manager for NASA, had a similar take. “Opportunities for entertainment and family/ friends connectivity will increase. I’ll take a guess here and say a person could be equipped with multiple (nearly) always-on, unobtrusive high-definition cameras and microphones, touring a city or skiing while streaming an Adobe Illustrator edited… feed to select friends and relatives. Call it Foursquare on steroids.”
The Pew report consists largely of quotes from people such as Papworth and Nall who were asked if they believed there would be “new distinctive and uniquely compelling technology applications” leveraging significant bandwidth in the U.S. between now and 2025 and if so, to describe what those applications might be. The majority (86%) of respondents said they believed compelling apps would emerge, although Pew noted that the survey was a “non-probability” one. Although 1,464 experts took part in Pew’s research, they were not intended to be a representative sample of the population at large.
Another potential killer app referenced by multiple respondents was augmented reality.
“The ability to not just watch, but actually be immersed in different kinds of environments will come closer to reality with faster bandwidth,” wrote Scott McLeod, director of innovation for the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency in Iowa.
“Oculus Rift and similar technologies combined with 3D (stereoscopic) cameras and haptic-feedback gloves, clothing and wearables will result in 3D ‘chat’ technologies that will come close to having people be able to ‘reach out and feel’ each other,” said Andrew Chen, associate professor of computer science at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Some of the potential killer apps that respondents referenced were basically enhancements to apps that already exist. For example, people said telepresence, home and health monitoring, and other systems will be enhanced.
Gigabit Killer Apps
In compiling the research results, the report authors looked for patterns among respondents and found that many comments fell into one of seven categories:
- Peoples’ ability to “be together” and collaborate will change as people are able to instantly meet face-to-face in cyberspace.
- Augmented reality will make gaming worlds and similar environments even more compelling.
- The connection between humans and technology will tighten.
- Certain economic and social sectors – including healthcare and education – will be especially impacted.
- New digital divides may open as people gain opportunities on different timelines and with different tools.
- Some said they could not predict what would happen because technology is changing so quickly.
- Others said advances will be gradual because widespread gigabit connectivity will not be easily achieved.