REPRINT FROM CABA QUARTERLY                                                  2. Legalized Video Recorders – ContentTWENTY-...
players, Auto PCs, wireless home networks,         Gigabit Networksbroadband Internet service, the start of service   Ther...
now supports 128 Mbps, and the pending               With smart agents and speech recognition,HomePlug AV spec will also s...
The MP3 music codec made it easy to send          trend will soon put high-end PC power on yourmusic through the Internet ...
recording everything you hear, see, read, and      enough for walls, so we may need new formatswrite each day, so you can ...
make that they’re essentially free, and with this   and attitudes, and social, political,scenario, the value comes from pr...
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2020 Vision: Twenty Years of Technology


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This article was written for CABA QUARTERLY to give builders insight into future technologies that affect home networks, but it is also useful for homeowners, product manufacturers and broadband service providers. Twenty-twenty Vision starts by looking back twenty years and then looking forward.

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2020 Vision: Twenty Years of Technology

  1. 1. REPRINT FROM CABA QUARTERLY 2. Legalized Video Recorders – ContentTWENTY-TWENTY Vision: owners in Hollywood sued Sony and argued20 YEARS OF TECHNOLOGY that VCRs lead to copyright violations, but the Supreme Court didn’t agree. As it turns out, theBy Wayne Caswell “Betamax ruling” didn’t hurt the movie business and cleared the way for a multibillion-dollarThis expands on previous articles about three videotape business where Hollywood makestypes of trends affecting home networks: (1) more money from rentals than box office.Technology, (2) Market & Consumer, and (3)Social & Economic. For reference, follow the 3. Launch of the Macintosh – Apple’slinks at graphical user interface sparked a major change in how we interact with PCs. And nowTwenty-twenty Vision can help you build Apple’s new iPod player and iTunes musichomes that outlast the mortgage, but you must service are changing digital music too,first embrace the unlimited possibilities. Only resolving similar digital rights issues as thethen can you visualize a version of the future Betamax prefer and set that as your destination. These three landmark events signaled aThis article helps you create that vision with convergence of computing technology,historical trends and a look at technological telecommunications, and content.developments that make new things possible.Calculating their probability, however, is anentirely different matter. TechnologyOrwell’s 1984 Apple MacLet’s start by reviewing key developments fromtwenty years ago and then look forward twentyyears or so. Content TelecomJanuary 1984 wasn’t quite what George Orwell Betamax AT&Tenvisioned in his book, but that year serves as Decision Breakupa benchmark for how far we’ve come since.Likewise, some of my predictions may neverhappen while others will be too conservative. Other important technologies from 1984 thJanuary 2004 marks the 20 anniversary of include the CD-ROM and portable CD players,three key events that shaped our era: the camcorder, the laser printer, and IBM’s PC/AT, which marked a shift in the company’s1. Breakup of AT&T – The largest antitrust suit PC strategy to focus more on large enterprisein American history broke up AT&T, created customers and less on small business andseven regional “Baby Bells,” deregulated the consumers.long-distance market, and created competition.No longer would a single carrier monopolize Highlights since 1984 include handheld PDAs,telecommunications, own every phone line, GPS navigation, direct broadcast satellite, theand manage every call. Telecommunications Act of 1996, digital & high-definition television, flat plasma TV screens, DVDs, digital video recorders, MP3WINTER 2004 CABA Home & Building Automation QUARTERLY
  2. 2. players, Auto PCs, wireless home networks, Gigabit Networksbroadband Internet service, the start of service There’s little need for gigabit home networksbundling, e-commerce, and more. when most homes dialup at kilobit speeds. Even DSL & cable networks offer minimalTechnology has already changed home performance with about 1 Mbps downstreamdesign. With hang-on-the-wall plasma and 56 Kbps up. U.S. broadband connectionsdisplays, we no longer want a large hole in the are slow compared to countries like Southwall for a 35” direct view TV set. But we do Korea.want network connections to stream audio andvideo from our DVR or media center to TV sets • Broadband Policy – South Korea has theand stereo systems in other rooms. That’s just highest penetration rate of any nation – 95% ofa start of design changes we can expect. households are covered and 54% subscribe. Korean Telecom offers VDSL (2-40 Mbps) forThe Internet just $25/month, and another $8 adds Wi-FiThe Internet changed how we live, work, play, things, communicate with others, andparticipate in society. For study purposes, it Aggressive Korean policies call for ubiquitoushas five major components: broadband access of 155 Mbps to 5 Gbps by 2005. The government has already made1. The Network Itself – media (copper, coax, direct investments of $2 billion in a nationalfiber, wireless), bandwidth, latency. backbone network, $600 million to promote digital content, and $100 million in loans to2. The Applications we Run – as the Net gets service providers who deploy new accessfaster and integrates into cars and homes, networks. And they’ve committed an additionalaccess devices get smaller and new apps & $30 billion for public/private broadbanduser interfaces appear. infrastructure by 2010.3. The Content we Access – all information U.S. policy makers must wake up and realizeabout everybody: our report cards, love letters, that an aggressive policy will help us competearrest records, medical histories, sales in the global information economy. Andreceipts, tax reports, surveillance videos, builders and equipment makers shouldhistory of web site visits, email, and IM & demand and expect performance of at leastnewsgroup postings. 100 Mbps and probably much faster.4. The Devices that Connect – from desktops • Home Networking Standards – Fasterto handhelds and embedded devices – they’ll processors help improve the performance ofwork together over the Net. different media and networking standards.5. The Location and Context – Internet access Ethernet, which appeared in 1985 at 10 Mbps,from everywhere (office, home, car), where we has since evolved to 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps and 10must consider the context of that location. Gbps already. Some people recommend using cat.5e or cat.6 cabling for gigabit networks, butBy 2024, the very fabric of society will be faster chips will soon that that speed to cat.5bathed with Internet access, and what we cabling.know about the world around us will depend onthe networks. HomePNA (using phone wires) and HomePlug (using power lines) are two no-new-wires home network standards that appeared around 1998 with 1 Mbps performance. HomePNA 3.0WINTER 2004 CABA Home & Building Automation QUARTERLY
  3. 3. now supports 128 Mbps, and the pending With smart agents and speech recognition,HomePlug AV spec will also support speeds machines and humans can work side-by-side,up to 200 Mbps. speaking to one another. The latest systems no longer sound like robots and instead soundEven wireless standards are pushing past 100 like anyone you want. They’ll soon be able toMbps with proprietary Wi-Fi extensions hold a conversation in natural language with aavailable at 108 Mbps. Twenty years from now, large vocabulary, answering questions andwireless should easily reach gigabit speeds performing tasks.and could replace all need for cabling. Untilthen, install cat.5 cabling (or better) where Since microphone distance is an issue forfeasible. speech apps, you might need a microphone array with digital signal processing to eliminate• Convergence of Services – Service noise, echoes and reverb so voice commandsproviders that survive industry consolidation are understood when you’re far away or closewill offer a “triple play” bundle of voice, data by. Or you could simply wear a wirelessand video services – available at lower cost, Bluetooth headset with speaker andwith greater performance, more function, a microphone.single monthly bill, and a single support line toresolve problems. They’ll need home networks The increased use of speech recognition isto connect TVs, PCs, stereos, and phones. driven by smaller devices without keyboards, and enabled by faster processors and moreApplications Online memory. I don’t think speech will be theThe “network is the computer” when apps primary interface, however, just an optionalmove online, and Web-advertising makes most one. That’s because sometimes we want quiet,of them free, where all you need is a browser – like when we’re working late and don’t want toon a PC, TV, PDA, or phone. disturb others, or when it’s easier to hit a switch than say “lights out.”• Shared Apps & Files – Move the apps andfiles online, and you get remote access to Digital Content & Rights Managementeverything (pictures, music, floor plans…) from Broadband networks with a mix of voice, data,anywhere. You can share what you want with and video help eliminate redundancy and deadfamily, friends and business acquaintances. space, including the idle time when no one isForget about installing software and keeping it talking on the phone, the dead space betweenup to date. Data managed by a trusted service words, or TV channels that no one is watching.guarantees its security and safety, and even ifyour house burns to the ground, those • Compression – Digital content is easy totreasured photos, movie clips, recipes, and tax compress and decompress (codec) and helpsrecords are still there – for as long as you like, to further eliminate redundancy. It can beand shared with whomever you like. either “lossless” (for data apps) or “lossy” (for pictures, music and video where users notice• Speech & Agents – What happens when little difference).machines listen, speak and appear intelligent?Smart agents act on your behalf, either • Music & Radio – Digital compressionbecause they are taught (rules-based agents) improves broadcast radio, whether it’s the newor because they learn on their own (through HD Radio format, satellite, or live streaming viasensors that recognize temperature, motion, Internet, and faster processors make for evenvoice commands, and even faces). better compression so networks can carry more interesting content.WINTER 2004 CABA Home & Building Automation QUARTERLY
  4. 4. The MP3 music codec made it easy to send trend will soon put high-end PC power on yourmusic through the Internet over relatively slow fingertip.connections, but it raised concerns aboutintellectual property. Apple’s iTunes music • Embedded Computing – As technologyservice has since found a way to protect the disappears into everyday devices (lightrights of artists and record labels while also switches, smoke detectors, doorknobs,making it easier to buy and download music. appliances, jewelry, eyeglasses, clothes, toys and other consumer electronics), we moveFor homes, this means consumers will want from the 1975 mainframe era of hundreds ofeasy ways to distribute music to speakers people sharing a single computer to an era ofanywhere. embedded computing with hundreds of processors per person.• Digital Video & Television – The digitalvideo recorder and its ability to bypass • Wireless Networks – You won’t need to runcommercials destroyed the old advertising cables to the smart toilets and windows sincemodel; so new business models are needed. wireless networks complement your structuredWe can expect a mix of video-on-demand, wiring. Even though wireless is the best optionsubscription services, personalized ads, and for mobility and will eventually support all of theproduct placements with hotlinks to buy or just apps you can imagine, wiring will still be thefind out more. most reliable, secure, and best performing option in 20 years.T-commerce is a term describing personalizedads that match viewer interests so they’re • The exploding PC – More and more PCmore effective. Interaction adds the ability to functions are moving into networkedfind more information and buy online while appliances, and printers, gateways and hardadvertisers gain a way of knowing who is disks already connect to Ethernet. That wayinterested. Nearly every home in 20 years will PCs, DVRs, game consoles, media centers,have highly interactive digital television, but and other devices can all use may still want to just sit back and watchpassively. With ultra-fast broadband access, these PC functions can move onto outside services, butEven when everyone can record video and it’s not clear what will be stored locally orpublish online, a few large media companies remotely. It is clear that you’ll have lots ofwill provide most of what you watch, because storage available.few people have enough talent or funds tomake compelling programs. • Disk Storage – The desktop PC of 1984 had a 20 MB hard disk, a 16-bit processor, aMPEG-4 is a fairly new video codec that needs clock speed of 8 MHz, and a retail price of overfar less storage and bandwidth than MPEG-2. $5,000 (in 1984 dollars). Today’s desktop isRather than 3 Mbps to send DVD-quality video, 250 times faster and has 2000 times moreMPEG-4 needs only 750 Kbps to get nearly the storage with a 40 GB disk.same quality. And instead of 20 Mbps forHDTV, MPEG-4 needs just 2-3 Mbps. If we still have desktop PCs twenty years from now, which I doubt, they’ll each have terabitTerabit PCs with Lots of Storage processors and 2 petabytes of storage, givenMoore’s Law describes a semiconductor trend the current trend.where transistor density doubles every 18months so products keep getting cheaper, What would you do with 2 petabytes? Store asmaller and faster with no end in sight. That million feature-length movies? How aboutWINTER 2004 CABA Home & Building Automation QUARTERLY
  5. 5. recording everything you hear, see, read, and enough for walls, so we may need new formatswrite each day, so you can recall it later from and faster networks.your wearable computer, heads-up display,and wireless network? Never forget a face or • Media Server – It’s not clear what sort ofname or birthday or anniversary. converged device will become the dominant media server, managing collections of music,• Solid-state Memory – The capacity of movies, photos and Internet content. If it’s apostage stamp size, non-volatile flash PC, it goes in the home office; and if it’s a set-memories will increase to 1GB this year and top box, it goes in the family room. Either way,soon hold feature-length movies, but that’s just we’ll want to send content to any PC, TV orthe beginning. Researchers are developing an stereo and control the content from there.inexpensive, fast, low-power, and non-volatilememory device that can replace flash, DRAM Convergence at a New Level(dynamic RAM), SRAM (static RAM), and The last 20 years were about the convergenceembedded memory in system-on-a-chip of computing, telecom and content; but theprocessors. vision of an e-society with anywhere access to all human knowledge depends on pushing theMRAM (magnetic random access memory) technology drivers and removing the inhibitors,uses magnetism to store data instead of including complexity, security, social,electricity, so contents remain when power is economic, and political MRAM is faster than static RAM and canbe dense enough to replace the hard disk. That’s why I envision a new set ofMRAM devices will also use far less power, be convergence spheres that bring togethermore reliable with no moving parts, and Nano-Science, Information Science, andeliminate the delays of saving data to disk, Political Science.shutting down, or booting up.• Remote Access & Security – Following the Informationmantra of “any content, anytime, anywhere, on Scienceany device,” wireless devices can control home (Find, Protect)apps and access home files. However, buildersmust understand the security issues.I’ve seen multi-million dollar homes where the Political Nano-Sciencesystems integrator provided wireless access to Science (Molecular, (Regulatory) Atomic)the home security system without knowing howeasy it is to break the weak security of Wi-Fiand gain access to the home and its contents. • Nano-Science – The nanotech evolution is• Displays Grow Large & Small – Since large shrinking semiconductor features to molecularTV displays keep getting thinner, forget in-wall and atomic dimensions, and that will extendcubbyholes and think about getting power and Moore’s Law well into the cables to wall-hung TVs. With individual components self-assembledAs mobile displays get smaller for wearing on from molecules, and with nanometereyeglasses, large TV displays will get much connections, the circuits will be much smallerlarger – even wall-sized and building-sized. We and more powerful than anything made frommay find that the 1080p HDTV format, which silicon. They may also be so inexpensive tolooks great on 70” displays, is not goodWINTER 2004 CABA Home & Building Automation QUARTERLY
  6. 6. make that they’re essentially free, and with this and attitudes, and social, political,scenario, the value comes from programming demographic and economic trends.the circuits. This article was just a start, and you may nowThe result for homes will be hundreds and want to check out my other Trends articles onthousands of intelligent devices that work, assuming that other barriers areremoved and standards allow. Wayne Caswell is founder of CAZITech Consulting, serving broadband, wireless and• Information Science – Believe me, your home network markets with marketing related services. Contact him at 512.335.6073;financial transactions, written opinions, love;, inquiries and disclosures are alreadyonline somewhere and there to stay. How willyou find them when you want them, andsecure them so others can’t?As we collect more information, we must learnmore about the nature of information itself sowe can use machines to search and parse thedata and deliver useful knowledge and insight.• Political Science – The most difficultproblems – universal broadband access,copyright, free expression, social networking,due process – have technical issues but arentreally technical problems. They depend moreon politics, business models, policy, changesin laws, and other factors.Who will be the new political and businessleaders? What companies, industries andnations will dominate? The business leadersmust innovate more and rely on gut instinct,and the policy makers must have the courageto avoid political pressures from powerfullobbyists and focus instead on public good.Education will become an even more importantfactor as students struggle to keep up withevolving science and consumers find it difficultto adopt technology and accept change.ClosingThe future isnt what it used to be and iscoming faster than ever. We can’t just studythe past, extrapolate trends, and learn aboutwhat’s possible. The greater challenge is inknowing the right things to do, so we must alsostudy changes in consumer behavior, lifestylesWINTER 2004 CABA Home & Building Automation QUARTERLY