What 2009-era Microsoft thought life in 2019

 

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But the video that produced in 2009, imagining what technology would look like in 2019, isn’t the massively embarrassing tech giant equivalent to a senior photo that I expected. The decade-old video, which was recently unearthed by Reddit, feels oddly contemporary. In fact, based on the technology it envisions–from gestural interfaces to urban green roofs–it could easily have been produced in 2019.

From the looks of it, the future of technology is a flat circle.


Microsoft’s old video hits many familiar future tropes: Every phone is a clear slab of glass. Every object, from plane tickets to coffee cups, is “smart” and has its own LCD screen. Every desk is a smart desk, and every wall is a smart wall. Newspapers rearrange themselves before your eyes, and information hops between all of these screens and objects with a swipe of your hand. Data is everywhere!

These fictional concepts are, by now, as familiar as the real thing. They’re shorthand for the future–the lorem ipsum of advanced tech. You can find them in movies, or in prescription drug commercials, or in a pitch for car insurance, and your brain’s response is probably something like, “Yup, that’s the world of tomorrow.”

So why do these utopian depictions of the future always feel just out of reach? Because, for the most part, hardware itself hasn’t radically changed. The smartphones and laptops we use now are relatively similar to what we used around the time Microsoft imagined this future. While “smart” cups, e-paper, and smart desks do exist, they haven’t been successful at scale yet. And the kind of gestural control that Microsoft depicted us having to move data between devices is entirely plausible, yet still hasn’t made it into any popular tech products. Mark my words: We will get flying cars before I’m able to just swipe a PowerPoint presentation from my iPhone to a projector at a Sheraton Inn and Suites conference room.

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