When will our world be really connected?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| June 16, 2011

When we sit down to watch a science-fiction movie, there’s a certain amount of awe and wonder that we get from watching what the future may look like. That is, if the movie does a good job of showcasing that future, with a bunch of cool gadgets everyone wishes they could have now. If any number of those gadgets is cool enough, then there’s always the chance that it could show up some day, in some capacity or another, in the future. I keep seeing and hearing these commercials, both on TV and on the radio, that our world is connected, that we’ve never been more connected. And that’s definitely the truth, thanks to things like the Internet. But when I think back to the science-fiction movies of the past, and I look at how connected those people are in some of those films, I can’t help but wonder when that level of connectivity will make it to the real world.

Connectivity is obviously a broad word. Here in the United States finding a cell phone or smartphone, or any other type of mobile device, isn’t hard. At any given moment during the day we’re more than likely having a conversation in some fashion with one or more people, all the while doing something else entirely. Multitasking (not on a smartphone, but by people themselves) makes it much easier for connectivity to be such a ubiquitous word, and it is one reason why it’s so easy for all of us to do it. Of course, with great gadgets like our smartphones or tablets, why wouldn’t we want to be connected?

So what kind of connectivity am I talking about? I’m talking about the kind of connectivity that has us always connected to what’s around us. Whether that is by our tablets, notebooks or smartphones these devices would be used to always keep us connected to the world around us, and not just the people that we know. Specifically, I’m thinking of the science-fiction movies that I’ve seen in the past where we see characters walking through a mall, or some other public location, and billboards react to their presence. But, not just that it’s a person walking by, but by name, and talking about what they would like to buy at a local store, or which route they should take to get home faster.

Interactive billboards exist, but not at the level I’m talking about above. And I think that some people might suggest that this level of connectivity might be too intrusive. And truth be told, that is a very logical argument. But, I think in these science-fiction films, it’s the person and therefore something inside the person that’s causing these connections to take place. There may be a little bit more room for less-intrusive, despite having full functionality, interactions if we’re basing these connections off of our cell phones, tablets or notebooks. With things like NFC, this could very well be the future.

Of course, every system can be mishandled, and something like this could very well be used for the wrong purpose, or be taken advantage of. I think there’s a real possibility that if this were to be used to its full potential, and without any kind of “malicious intent,” then perhaps our world of connectivity could really be something we’re astonished by every day, and excite to use. Of course, that “malicious intent” is something that may be hard to navigate away from, considering how many people would be involved in something like this. And protecting people’s information, as well as their lives, would be of the utmost importance.

When you watch a science-fiction movie, where gadgets and devices are being shown off on a regular basis, what kinds of things are you hoping might make it to the real world? And do you think our world will ever really be connected like that? And how can mobile operating systems like iOS, Android or Windows Phone 7 incorporate this kind of technology? Let me know what you think in the comments below.