Welcome to the Future I: Virtual travelling

Because it's being a while now, I thought I'd post something clever-sounding today, so that I can justify why I'm still wearing those horrible glasses of mine.

Companies like Google push us through the future, causing or facilitating changes that could not have happened otherwise and changing our lives at the same time. The change is sometimes minor. And sometimes we cannot even begin to imagine the implications. When months ago I used Google Street View to show a colleague our company's offices in the USA, her reaction was "Wow, this is scary". It is scary, I guess, but isn't it also beautiful the fact that we can walk around the world from our office/home? (and that this was unthinkable 1 year ago?).

And this is hardly the limit of the adventure. As virtual travelling keeps evolving, and more features are incorporated to the experience, may we one day see a situation in which we have to decide whether it's really worth it to physically travel?

Let's just imagine for a second and go one step further. Combine Street view (or Google Earth, for the 3D version) with the concept of virtual worlds (like Second life), where we also have a virtual 3D avatar who "plays us" in the virtual environment. Now, let's meet in Paris. Today, why wait? Let's have a nice chat there before contemplating the Eiffel tower in all the possible lights (morning, dusk, illuminated in the dark) in a matter of seconds. And since we are not subject to physical limitations, let's fly (yep, fly, just like we would in a video game) or teleport to the Grand Canyon and spend the evening there.

Of course it's not that simple. Attempts have been made at making this possible, but no clear success as emerged of them. Graphics are not yet that realistic. Screens are still 2D. Computers are not yet as fast, and it is annoying to wait for Google Earth to load all the buildings and textures in Manhattan. This is NOW though. Computers evolve quickly.

Also, we see and hear, but we cannot touch. We all who live away from our loved ones love applications like skype. We love talking to our family or friends without barriers, or even have a conversation face to face. But it's not quite as good as being there, right? You may just need a hug that day, and all the available technology won't be able to help you. But talking about scary, I don't see why that too won't evolve. Tom Cruise's Minority report dream gloves for computer interaction have already been made. And virtual reality interaction devices are by now an old friend.

Ok, these are not the gloves I was talking about, but isn't it as cool? :-)

I believe one day, we will actually be able to kiss someone from the other side of the world. Or simply shake hands and actually feel it. That day distances will have disappeared, and everything
will have changed .

Also, I'm one of those naive dreamers who really believed we'd have flying DeLoreans by now after watching Back to the Future II. It feels very good to be able to look towards the ever-mysterious tomorrow with documented hopes that we might get there after all. It's exciting to be living this age of technological change.

Welcome to the future.

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