Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting

DISPLAY CONSULTING

Bump… Oh, excuse me.  Thump… Whoops.  Crash…

The above was the title of my column published in September 1997 in Information Display magazine.  The column opened with the following:  “The sounds you have just heard are those of the Information Society in full operation just a few years from now.  They are the sounds of errant information packets colliding with stationary objects, moving objects, and with each other.”

Further into that column I predicted the following scenario for September of 2001 – only four years into the future.   “The new ‘in-thing’ is constant communication person-to-person.  The form that the communication devices have taken is now known to have first been revealed at the 1997 SID Symposium in Boston.  Having been rather abruptly transported into this world, we are somewhat startled by what we see.  Everywhere we look, people are looking into their cell-phones, peeping into their pagers, or gazing into small mirror-like units attached to their eyeglasses.  In this new Information Society, walking down the street has become quite hazardous.   People haven’t yet quite gotten the hang of walking while looking into their communicators.  Audible signals have been added at street crossings and most light poles have now been padded with a material similar to that used for football-field goal posts.  Nevertheless, there are numerous bumps and bruises being inflicted as the busier downtown areas try to learn how to cope with this new trend in combining business activities with moving about.  A new medical practice has sprung-up to treat what has become called ‘communicator’s black-eye’.  There has even been some talk about making these communication devices illegal or at least restricting their use.”

Well, as with most predictions, I was too optimistic in how soon this new world- order would be upon us.  Instead of four years, it has taken roughly a dozen.  And instead of near-to-the-eye displays, we have ended up with audio ear-pieces seemingly permanently imbedded in peoples’ ears.  And of course, it may take a few more years before padded light poles finally get installed.

But other than these minor details, the world-of-the future from my 1997 perspective has come upon us just about as expected.  No matter where we go, we now have to deal with the impact of non-stop communication. 

Recently, I was visiting clients in a large US city and we needed to walk a few blocks to another facility.  The downtown streets were busy with mid-day traffic and crossing the wide streets required a certain level of prudent attention.  Nevertheless, several of my colleagues were concentrating on answering e-mails while we were walking and -- not once but several times we came uncomfortably close to testing the theory that -- “Surely the speeding car will stop if I just step into the street”. 

The future has arrived – very much as predicted.  No matter what the situation or what the activity, it now must be combinable with a cell-phone or a text message reader/sender.  Are you boarding your flight and trying to put your overloaded carry-on in the already full overhead compartment?  Well, for goodness sakes, don’t even think about interrupting your phone conversation or the sending of your latest text message to do that.  Others can wait.  Perhaps they won’t even mind all that much because they are doing the same thing.  Has the flight attendant asked you at least three times to turn off your communication device because the plane is about to take off?  If it’s only been twice, she must not really mean it yet.  Have the wheels touched the ground on landing?  Oh, good.  There must be many urgent messages that have piled up during the two-hour flight that need immediate attention.  What could be more important than to transmit the following urgent information – “Oh, hi.  We just landed.  We’re taxiing to the gate”?

Have we reached the saturation point yet?  We should be getting close because there are only twenty-four hours in the day.  Once these are being fully utilized is there any way to do more?  Perhaps the answer is that we will begin to try to implement a version of parallel processing – such as is happening with computers.  We can’t go faster and there is no additional time that can be created so we will just have to access several devices at the same time.  Why not text message and talk on a cell phone at the same time?   That’s not nearly as challenging or dangerous as driving at seventy miles per hour while text messaging.  And once that skill is mastered, why not read an electronic magazine on a laptop computer, while talking on a phone, while sending a text message?   With this new approach the possibilities are nearly unlimited.  Perhaps we will all become like the juggler who keeps adding balls until finally they all crash to the ground.

Nevertheless, this is all a wonderful trend for the display industry.  Each of these communications devices utilizes a display -- and the better and brighter the display the easier it will be to use in all kinds of outdoor and indoor environments.   Further increases in the efficiency of light generation, increased brightness, and full color with excellent resolution – these are all useful improvements to introduce to this growing jumble of communications devices.  All this is guaranteed to promote further development of display technologies for at least the next decade and well beyond.

Should you wish to express your thoughts about the proliferation of communications devices and where the future may lead us, you may reach me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.