News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

The Future of Multimedia


The above entry is a great example of how video can sometimes convey an idea much more easily and dramatically than text. In the future, text, images, audio, video and other datatypes will merge into a multimedia whole that will be far more effective in conveying information than any previous technology. The exact balance of datatypes will depend on the message that is meant to be conveyed as well as the technology being used.

For example, the newspaper of the future will be a primarily textual medium with images that morph into video at the viewer’s request. The static image of the President giving a speech next to the reporter’s story about his speech will become video clips of the speech. Stock quotes in the investment section will be updated live throughout the trading day. The comics will become short animations. Advertisements will be video commercials. While this future newspaper might look and feel similar to paper, it won’t be. Instead, it will be a flexible, even foldable high-resolution color screen with its electronics miniaturized and layered into a device no thicker than newsprint. Rather than throwing the newspaper into the trash when done, corrections and updates to top stories will occur automatically, and every morning the latest issue will, magically it seems, appear.

Around the same time, CNN and the other news channels will merge with their websites. Since most viewers will have multiple screens attached to their desktop computers, or will be using augmented vision devices to overlay virtual reality onto reality, video and text will intermingle in our perception, interactive to our own personal demands.

All of this is possible with current technology, but will finally become reality over the next few years, as technology is refined and costs plummet. Look for such technology to proliferate around 2010 as the commercialization of the Grid begins, typical connection speeds increase to greater than 100 Mbps, cable channels begin using the Internet as another distribution channel, computer chips reach speeds in excess of 20 GHz and include well over a billion transistors, and paper-thin displays start showing up in everything from advanced television sets to cereal boxes.

And what happens after that? Just wait until automation and artificial intelligence take over news reporting and content production. You haven’t seen anything yet.

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