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This week, Ericsson ConsumerLab released our 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017. One of the main themes in the report relates to the fact that everything around us is increasingly being interpreted as moving images – not only by us humans but also by AI systems; for example when turning your photos into Picassos or Rembrandts, IoT applications use something like face recognition, and cars scan their surroundings for autonomous drive functions.
But it is not only about things – we humans will also become more graphically oriented. In the report, we jokingly talk about this as moving from the real time era to reality time – and by that we don’t mean reality shows on TV!
Instead, our trends research is pointing towards a major shift, where computing power will be directed at our visual cortex rather than our hands. Over the recent decades, computers have moved from desktops to laptops and with smartphones to the tops of our palms. But now computers are all set to top our heads.
When using augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) to fundamentally change your visual experience of reality, it might actually makes sense to have the computer next to your eyes.
But if this is reality time, we should do some reality checking. Will this really happen?
There are some clear indications that it could. Not only are companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Sony, HTC, and Magic Leap lining up revolutionary head mounted devices, Microsoft is also making AR and VR key features of the next major Windows update, set to be available for free this spring.
Our recent research on advanced internet users in 14 major cities also shows that more than 40% would like a computer that employs AR/VR as its main interface.
But even more amazingly: as many would want such an AR/VR device to be worn as headgear.
At this time of year, I actually wouldn’t mind a headtop computer – if nothing else it might keep my ears warm in the winter cold!
Michael Björn is Head of Research at Ericsson ConsumerLab and has a PhD in data modeling from the University of Tsukuba in Japan. One of Michael's keen research interests is the process of assimilation of ICT into everyday consumer life.
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