November 30, 2014
Thinking About Future IO Devices

I own some recently purchased hard copy books because some books were published before ebooks became the rage, the books are out of print, they aren't available in ebook format, and I have to buy them used. Here's the interesting part: I read hard copy books much more slowly than ebooks. The effort to go figure out where I last left this or that hard copy book takes too much time as compared to switching between about 150 partially read ebooks which I currently have on Kindle or Nexus tablet.

I'm going to keep all my hard copy books next to my bed to increase the odds I'll put hard copy books into the rotation when reading in bed. This might or might not help.

I happen to own multiple Kindles, tablets, Chromebooks, and the like so that when the battery gets low on one I can just switch to another one while recharging. These devices are so cheap that I'm currently buying more redundant devices. When I say cheap I really mean that. Back before flat panels were available I used to own 2 big tube Hitachi monitors that cost about $1800 each (more adjusted for inflation). All my phones, tablets, Kindles and other devices do not cost that much. Nor do they together take up as much space as just one of those big CRTs. So why not go for redundancy for greater convenience?

But these current devices, as advanced as they seem compared to 20 years ago, are still primitive as compared to where devices are going in the future. What seems like the big frontier: Make a device that interfaces with the brain, lets you connect up different pieces of information with your thoughts, and then later retrieve the collected pieces of info.

I'm thinking about how that is going to work. What we need: for the computer that interfaces with our minds to suggest labels (which serve as categories) to place on stuff we are reading. It is too much effort for your mind to have to type on a virtual keyboard. Suppose you are just about finished reading an article and want to retrieve it again.. Better that the computer offer some labels and you choose a few. One label could be a request for a future action such as "remind me of this 2 days from now along with everything else connected to the same other label I also just assigned to this article".

Are we going to need to make visible physical motions in order to rapidly interact with a computer interface in our brains? Maybe we need to be able to use our arms to choose virtual menu options. But there is a lot of advantage in meeting situations to being able to mark info for connection and retrieval without showing outward signs of motion. Maybe little twists of one hand on a finger in another could allow menu item choosing in a much less conspicuous manner.

How about hardware upgrades? You can buy a new cell phone every year or even more often. But once we have implants interfaced to our brains how often will the upgrade cycle happen? Will we get implants that require brain surgery? That'd make upgrades pretty rare. Or will robots go up thru the nose and do the upgrades fast? Or will the implants go somewhere lower down and then snake microtubes into the brain?

Seems to me that brain implants are going to really hard and take a long time. The harder part seems like computer output to the brain visual system. So I think we are a long way away (at least 2 decades) from brain implants for the masses. Implants for those with severe handicaps will come sooner because the benefit is much higher. But the cost and risk of fiddling with the brain has to get way low before it becomes mainstream.

Given the high hurdle to brain interfaces we are likely to see decades of refinement for more conventional interfaces. Perhaps we will see 20 to 30 years of successive refinements of virtual reality worn head gear combined with keyboard gloves as more compact typing devices that take the place of conventional keyboards. But putting on gloves and taking them off seems like a time-consuming annoyance. Maybe we'll hear a glove-like layer that attaches to the tops of our hands to detect finger motion so that the tips of our fingers retain full sensitivity to pick up and manipulate anything in our physical environment.

Some people (especially gamers) are going to be up for wearing more extensive IO devices. So full gloves and helmets have a future. But for people who want to retain the ability to seamlessly interact with the physical world around them while also interacting with computers we are going to need interfaces that are less invasive.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 November 30 08:39 PM 


Comments
Brett Bellmore said at December 1, 2014 3:19 AM:

"The effort to go figure out where I last left this or that hard copy book takes too much time as compared to switching between about 150 partially read ebooks which I currently have on Kindle or Nexus tablet."

I commend to your attention another obsolete technology: Book marks. They go together with books the way buggies and buggy whips went together.

"Make a device that interfaces with the brain, lets you connect up different pieces of information with your thoughts, and then later retrieve the collected pieces of info."

And, one morning, you wake up just coincidentally agreeing with Mark Zuckerberg about everything. But it doesn't bother you, because Zuckerberg is, after all, cool with it.

Anonymous said at December 2, 2014 6:22 PM:

The technology for brain wave interfaces is already here, all it takes is a guy with vision to see the huge profit, a backer that believes in said vision, and the work to make a sleek product. The same thing that happened to Windows/MAC OS, mp3 player, and Oculus Rift.
We're coming to an age where we don't need geniuses to invent complex stuff. We already have the technology and the ideas, all it takes is to get the money, the brain and the work together.

Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

                       
Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright