John Battelle writes about HP’s Halo: “Telepresence for me was some kind of Jetsonian fantasy, a silly, far off concept that I understood intellectually, but discounted entirely because it struck me as unrealistic and impractical. But after experiencing it first hand, it strikes me as the kind of impractical idea – like the telephone or the automobile – that will end up changing the world someday.”

Home Servers

Popular Mechanics writes: “The technorati among you may protest: Why do we need home servers when everything is migrating online? Google has a full suite of productivity software available that works through a Web browser, and services like .Mac function as an online virtual server for home and small business users without bringing IT problems home. Combine that with a general trend toward higher bandwidth, and the distinction between your network and the Internet becomes almost academic. Nevertheless, the end result is the same: a server — massive, networked, securely backed up and well-managed storage that is accessible from anywhere. Without it, the era of movie downloads and the networked home will never evolve beyond an early adopter novelty.”

Digital Public Space

David Beisel writes:

Much of the technology press attention on the digital media space (both mainstream and blog) has covered consumers consumption inside the home (web, digital audio and video) or on their own devices when they leave the home. Yet the availability of digital media has the opportunity to spread to the entire real estate of public life.

Is there a day in the future when property owners with public space, like shopping malls, become media companies focusing on selling not just physical store inventory but also ad inventory?

Five Future Innovations

IBM writes about five innovations that will change our lives over the next five years:

# We will be able to access healthcare remotely, from just about anywhere in the world
# Real-time speech translation-once a vision only in science fiction-will become the norm
# There will be a 3-D Internet
# Technologies the size of a few atoms will address areas of environmental importance
# Our mobile phones will come close to reading our minds

Fortune on Ray Kurzweil

Fortune calls him the “smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth.”

Kurzweil, however, has something bigger on his mind than just making money – after half a lifetime studying trends in technological change, he believes he’s found a pattern that allows him to see into the future with a high degree of accuracy.

The secret is something he calls the Law of Accelerating Returns, and the basic idea is that the power of technology is expanding at an exponential rate. Mankind is on the cusp of a radically accelerating era of change unlike anything we have ever seen, he says, and almost more extreme than we can imagine.

A Smarter Web

Technology Review writes:

Six months after the launch of his own Zepheira, a consulting company that helps businesses link fragmented data sources into easily searched wholes, Eric Miller’s beachside decision seems increasingly prescient. The Semantic Web community’s grandest visions, of data-surfing computer servants that automatically reason their way through problems, have yet to be fulfilled. But the basic technologies that Miller shepherded through research labs and standards committees are joining the everyday Web. They can be found everywhere–on entertainment and travel sites, in business and scientific databases–and are forming the core of what some promoters call a nascent “Web 3.0.”

Already, these techniques are helping developers stitch together complex applications or bring once-inaccessible data sources online. Semantic Web tools now in use improve and automate database searches, helping people choose vacation destinations or sort through complicated financial data more efficiently. It may be years before the Web is populated by truly intelligent software agents automatically doing our bidding, but their precursors are helping people find better answers to questions today.

Intel’s New Markets

WSJ writes:

[Intel] told analysts that it will develop semiconductors for new varieties of hand-held gadgets, consumer-electronics products and portable computers for emerging economies. Each of the chip markets has total potential revenue of $10 billion a year, estimated Paul Otellini, Intel’s chief executive officer.

Defining characteristics of the new devices include broadband Internet access and low power consumption, Mr. Otellini said during the company’s annual analyst meeting in New York. The gadgets and the chips in them will command lower prices than Intel is accustomed to — requiring improved operating efficiency and advantages of a new manufacturing technology to keep the company’s profit margins up, he said.

Venture Capital’s Next Bets

Knowledge@Wharton writes about the new areas where VCs are investing:

The Internet, though not the darling it was a few years ago, still gets attention, thanks to the advances in online video that, for example, powered YouTube. “Video is a key driver right now,” said Roland Van der Meer, co-founder of ComVentures in Palo Alto, Calif. “There is amazing technology coming out of MIT, Stanford and Cal Tech addressing problems like, ‘How do you render video differently and how do you insert ads in real time?'”

Clean tech, for its part, represents a host of technologies and has been propelled by widespread public concern over carbon emissions and global warming. Given the scientific consensus that human-produced pollution has heated the world, established companies are seeking ways to reduce its impact and startups are offering up all kinds of environmentally friendly alternatives.

Inside-Out Web

Forbes has an essay by David Gelernter:

The next Web–the Worldbeam, we call it–will resemble today’s Web imploded or, if you prefer, turned inside out. It will be a single global “information beam.” Every Web page ever posted is in this beam. Whenever someone updates a page or designs a new one, it is added to the end. The Worldbeam is a stream of many separate documents–or a beam with many documents dissolved in it, held in suspension. Both metaphors are useful.

The Worldbeam is a constantly growing journal or time line of electronic documents. Its storage is dispersed over many machines for reliability and safety, but to users the Beam looks like one structure. Like so much contemporary software, it is created by two programs working together, one on a server (or many servers) and another on your own machine; these programs allow your machine to be an “empty” computer most of the time. Information is downloaded automatically and fast when you need it, and erased when you don’t.

Tech Revolution Continues

Forbes has a column by Cisco’s John Chambers:

What began as a technical innovation has become a cultural, political and business revolution. Bits and bytes change the ways we live, work, learn and play. In its infancy 14 years ago, the Internet drove advances in the ways in which we interact and communicate. Today we are seeing a new Internet-driven revolution, an entirely new level of instant, complex collaboration across the global human network.

This global collaboration has begun, and will continue, to fundamentally change business models, relationships, political networks, innovation, learning. Consider just one application: high-definition videoconferencing. With this, people as far away from each other as Singapore and Cincinnati can sit across the virtual table from one another. You hear the faraway voice as if it were in the same room. You see the other person’s pupils dilate, forehead sweat and fingers tap from thousands of miles away.