Something more important happened this week than the iPhone 5 announcement, and it happened in the very same city that hosted Apple's latest launch. Intel was holding its Developer Forum (IDF), and it put down its research and development pipeline for the next eight years.
The interesting bit? By 2020, it expects to have its processors built on a 5nm process. Over at AnandTech, it's postulated that if you choose to keep the performance the same as Intel's third-generation Core chips today, you could theoretically get the chip as small as 6.25mm² — likely around the size of the nail on your little finger.
Although in reality it'll likely be a little larger, at this size it probably won't cost all that much to produce, either, meaning that it should be a cinch to put the chips simply everywhere — for an era known as ubiquitous computing.
In troika with the similar goal of getting OLED cheap enough that you can put screens everywhere, and projects like Google Glasses and other such augmented-reality (AR) devices, the future is distinctly moving away from having everything in your pocket, and is throwing it out to reality itself.
It probably won't look exactly like Google's vision, nor either aspect of Microsoft's (or the parody, for that matter), and it hopefully won't look a whole lot like Minority Report's. But make no mistake; these are the systems being prototyped and worked on right now, with the goal of not only ubiquitous computing, but also universal interoperation. And it's closer than we think.
Both are fascinating quests, the latter because at some point, we'll have to stop being so proprietary about things and patenting up the wazoo in order to make it work. The former, because we're actively changing our environment to something that is incredibly more nurturing, with information always with us, always ready to assist. It will create an even deeper dependency on technology, and soon enough there'll be a generation that won't have known life before that. When faced with an environment that isn't completely interactive for the first time, it's hard to say how they'd react. Perhaps there'll be adventure getaways where the idea of excitement is to go to the country. Not particularly to do anything, but just to see how long you can last.
I'm vastly looking forward to not being chained to a phone or laptop, and, to some degree, having technology everywhere is freeing — it simply becomes part of the furniture, rather than dominating a lifestyle. But we may also be may not take too long to solve., and perhaps our ability to adjust to new, unknown things will be impacted. If only I could live long enough to see how it all pans out — incidentally, something in itself that