TeleWare’s chief innovation officer Paul Millar looks forward to the next 25 years… 25 years is a long time in technology. When we started TeleWare some 25 years ago there was no Google, no smart phones, no social media and mobile telephony was only in its infancy.
The technology we are using today is pretty much along the lines of what we expected when we were future gazing back then. Some details are different, of course. We don’t have personal Back to the Future hover boards yet and Hollywood’s vision of AI is certainly taking its time to reach human level intelligence. But all in all, technology has proved to be pretty predictable.
How predictable will the next 25 years be?
We already know some of the highlights for the coming years – virtual reality, augmented reality, advanced AI, 3D printing, widespread Internet of Things, more use of biometrics, use of the skin as an IT platform, smart materials – and that’s just IT.
There will certainly be many fantastic benefits from improving technology. We’ll live longer, healthier lives and the steady economic growth from improving technology will make the clear majority of people financially comfortable.
But what is next in communications? As smartphones and tablets become ubiquitous, as hosted PBX systems and video conferencing becomes commonplace, what’s the next step in telecommunications technology?
Artificial intelligence is undoubtedly a huge part of any technology business’ future. For a few years now we have seen a huge shift in AI and machine learning. Applications are moving beyond backend systems to more mainstream uses.
There’s much talk about the coming creation of an intelligent Internet. We have already seen the first steps towards this. Every time you use Siri, you are connecting to a single centralised AI system working on your behalf. Providing you with the data and services on demand. With AI moving towards controlling more devices and sources of content, collaboration amongst these semi-autonomous AI agents will drive huge benefits.
AI will impact designers and programmers too. Automating much of the processes involved. Mapping their desires, explicitly communicated or even implied, to achieve creations that fulfil those requirements. In parallel, this will result in increased satisfaction from the people that interact with these AI-automated designs and programmes. Creating surprise and delight by continuously morphing as the system learns from other users.
Murphy’s law and quantum computing
The new uses of AI will demand processing speeds well in excess of what a single CPU can provide today. AI is already being distributed over multiple machines within and across data centres. With the algorithms capable of running in parallel over many hundreds of Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) on each computer. The ability to make use of this scale of compute capacity is beginning to show signs of future potential. But more breakthroughs in computing are needed to harness the full potential of the available processing power. New approaches, such as quantum computing extensions, are being researched today and show promise.
Smart phones likely to disappear
Already there is a move towards wearables on the wrist and projection implants. A move towards technology being part of you rather than a device is coming. A transitional stage is likely, having technology built into our clothing.
Visualisation still needs screens. But we can expect to see this move to hollow lens with augmented reality. This will build on concepts such as Google Glass, alongside real-world applications.
Much of the technology for this already exists. It needs to be less cumbersome. The form factor must be made smaller as it becomes more powerful.
Death of the keyboard
Keyboard input will move to voice activated requests leading to visual outputs. Embedded video into glass rather than using a screen as we know it.
There will be seamless delivery of real-time information. Where people stay connected through a virtual world at their fingertips. Where every day surfaces are transformed from one-dimensional utilities, into sophisticated electronic devices. It will be a world of mobile communication and connection.
At the same time, we can expect Alexa and other home pods to become an embedded part of the every-home’s wiring.
Cloud infrastructure will be pervasive. Literally all you need is an internet connection, and you’re off!
The true potential of the cloud will only be realised with universal, high-speed, broadband internet everywhere. We are getting there. Airlines are adding satellite based wi-fi to flights. Cities and towns across the country are getting wired with hotspots. There will undoubtedly be new ways in which connectivity is provided at all times. The key is speed to make sure all the other uses can be supported.
What’s our contribution?
For TeleWare the starting point is to understand AI. We are using data to understand this world.
In 1991 we developed the ‘Intelligent Number’. One number that moves with you from device to device so you’re always available. It is likely to be the same in the next 25 years as communications become even more prevalent. Connectivity moving with you wherever you are.
Net contribution to innovation
We are an innovative group. We work with third party API’s and cloud services to explore the ‘art of the possible’. Shared development is increasingly accessible through the public cloud, allowing us to take the best of what is out there and develop it to the next level. Speech to text and sentiment analysis of voice data is already something we are actively working on.
We work with technologies such as IBM Watson, MS and Speechmatics which are all taking the best technology and evolving it. Platform agnostic development enables us all to advance at speed, hopefully delivering best of breed.
Bringing the inspiration in
Innovation doesn’t just come from the senior team, but from everyone within the business. ‘Innovation Fridays’ were set up as an ideas forum for our team members to work together on new ideas, innovation and products. This creative, fast-paced forum discusses anything from product innovation to internal processes. This keeps us looking forward giving us time and focus to stay leading edge. The whole business has something to offer. We also carve out time on Friday’s for shared learning time. Connecting to Ted style talks and setting up mini Hackathons to drive new product development.
TeleWare has a dedicated Innovation Centre to showcase new technology. Prototypes, products and solutions developed in house, to gain customer and partner insight and feedback. It is a great space to learn and collaborate. Sometimes virtually joining with our partner innovation centres around the country.