The History of Communications, The Future of Technology

Pop Quiz:

When was wireless communication invented?

Answer:  The dawn of animal life

Eye contact, gestures, and audible sounds all predate the human experience and are definitely wireless.  I ask anyone to argue that T-Rex’s roar did not communicate anything to the Triceratops tending their young in the ravine.

In the human experience however, superior intelligence has brought those original, God given abilities of communication to a whole new level.

“you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been”

Language was an eventual necessity in conveying all the thoughts and ideas that we had in our heads.  The need to pass history to future generations, spurred written communication in the form of petroglyphs and hieroglyphics.  My great grandfather knew quite a bit about these forms, http://siris-archives.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?uri=full=3100001~!1877!0, and I wish I knew more.

Communication primarily developed differently for us due to three unique challenges we were trying to overcome.

Distance- Writing was developed for historical purposes, as stated above, but also allowed information to be shared across great distances.  Books offered “one to many” communication across borders and nations, while mail facilitated “one to one” communication.

Time- Writing was a great way (and still is) to share over a long distance, but it takes some time.  The radio, telegraph, and telephone are some prominent examples of technologies that cover distance, but do so quickly.  The television came some years later to tackle the same issue in a visual way.  The fax machine is also a way to share visual media over distances quickly.

Access- Whether its cell service, the internet, WiFi, etc its all about access.  Access to anything (web) and anyone (cell, email).

After we tackled the challenges above, focus shifted to the way that we interact with the systems we created,  As an example, the modern computer started with DOS, where you had to type written commands.  It then went to a Windows where using a mouse you clicked on pictures.  Next came voice recognition, although not prevalent.  Touch screens started appearing to simplify the mouse even further, and then multitouch for even more intuitive operation.  Now we are in the age where the machines can track gestures and eye direction to control the PC.

Notice a pattern?  We started with eye contact and gestures and then created more and more technology to bridge gaps in distance, time, and access, and now we are returning those technologies’ interfaces back toward the most basic actions of looking and gesturing.

This being said, while increases in WiFi distances and 3G,4G speeds are still happening today, the greatest opportunity for technology innovation right now is in interactive interfaces.  We have come back to making the complicated simpler.  It presents an opportunity for beautiful simplicity, and with it, a universal acceptance of technology by breaking down the barriers to operating it.

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