My pal and fellow conspirator in pretending to be part of a think tank, Brad Holtz, asked me to opine on 2020. You want my opinions about good vision?, I asked, never really sure where Brad’s coming from. No, you idiot, he said, the year 2020, but I guess you’d have to have pretty good vision to see that far, and then he almost hurt himself laughing at his own cleverness.
Hmm, what would 2020 computer graphics look like?
Computer graphics, CG, hasn’t always had 20/20 vision, although it has been inherently capable of it, given its quantized basis in mathematics and physics.
Until just a few years ago, the I/O elements of a CG system were the constraining factors keeping us from the realization of realistic, suspended-disbelief imagery that was beyond the Uncanny Valley.
Last year brought us breakthroughs in 3D capture and in display systems. In consumer devices, 3D capture technology was realized with improved accuracy, speed, and simultaneous price reduction—a normal, almost expected, effect of economy of scale combined with price elasticity and the resulting Moore’s law effect. Displays increased in resolution, color acuity (gamut), response times, brightness, and contrast while simultaneously becoming thinner, lighter, and less expensive.
Software developments in professional graphics for 3D design, modeling, and rendering took gigantic steps. The results were seen in amazing new building designs, stunning-looking automobiles, astounding special effects in the cinema, and unbelievable realism and speed in games.
Adjacent CG activities in virtual reality, augmented reality, and stereoscopic vision were matched with remarkable new sound systems, taking us from 7.1 to 25 channels and beyond. Simultaneously with all of these developments, the unrelenting march of Moore’s law drove prices down to consumer levels while providing simulation and visualization systems for the masses.
How could it possibly get any better?
Seven years from now, in 2020, we will look back at this time with astonishment and amusement and ask our¬selves how we ever tolerated such ridiculously crude, unrealistic, slow, and productivity-limiting systems.
Our affection and tolerance for physical peripherals will evolve into the same type of repulsion that we would have today for a hand-cranked car starter. We will no longer be limited to flat-panel display systems, manually operated mechanical input systems, or restricted areas for conducting design, development, and entertainment.
Compute devices, projection systems, natural user interfaces, and uncompromisable ownership and security of our work will give us friction-free total access to enormous amounts of data, worldwide collaboration, and almost instantaneous physical prototypes.
When the computer and its anchor-based peripherals disappear, our productivity, creativity, and freedom of move-ment will reach levels we never dreamed possible. Big data, today’s challenge and a frightening opportunity for some or¬ganizations, will be mastered and manageable by almost everyone, just as the Web is today. Diagnostics based on esoteric searches of enormous amounts of data will be accomplished in seconds, giving us never-before-dreamed-of levels of healthcare, product safety, and design scenarios.