Twenty years ago, the idea that videoconferencing, streaming-on-demand, and mobile phones would become such an integral part of our lives would have been hard to imagine. Today, an internet connection is essential for education, work, communication, and entertainment in ways previous generations would have found hard to imagine.
Now, thanks to a sustained investment in broadband infrastructure and technology by internet providers, the next generation of innovation is coming at us even faster than before, via 10G. These technologies are set to revolutionize our lives in ways that we might find hard to imagine, but only if we continue to maintain, upgrade, and—especially—expand our broadband networks.
But what do these advances mean in practice? What kind of technologies will be enabled by superfast internet? In today’s piece we’ll look at some examples of the new world that is just around the corner.
1. Smart Homes
Many of our homes are already becoming more connected, with 80% of US homes now having access to gigabit speeds. Picture a kitchen moving past smart appliances to add on-demand cooking devices and meal-prep services. Or a living room with holographic display entertainment and 8K movies streaming with a simple verbal command. How about virtual-reality gaming and travel, together with automated heating, lighting, and security? No, it isn’t the Jetsons: that’s what the 10G-powered house of the future will look like soon. And thanks to Mediacom, a model smart home is already here with 70 installations that will transform your definition of the possible.
The COVID pandemic has underscored like never before the importance of telehealth – the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies for distance care, education, public health and administration. This includes technology such as videoconferences, streaming media, store-and-forward imaging, and more. The telehealth firm Trapollo, for example, has created a “hospital in the home” experience for patients to receive at-home medical care, complete with an app that allows for constant communication and monitoring by providers. Add to this smart-home features such as smart pill boxes and habit tracking, and home wellness has never been more within reach. The implications for more patients to be able to live comfortably at home, and to age in place instead of in a facility, are very exciting.
3. Education/Distance Learning
In March 2020, a hundred thousand schools closed, hurling some 55 million students and teachers into the unknown world of distance education. Much has been learned from this year of experience, which will be vital for making the most of our digital future. Sites such as Kahoot, which employ technology and game-based learning to make education interactive and fun, will see an enormous increase in power and potential. The low latency made possible by faster speeds, moreover, will allow for interactive 3-D learning simulations, such as science labs and other hands-on learning once thought to be restricted to the domain of the in-person. This will the mean the ability to project high-quality, as-if-you-were-there classroom sessions anywhere, shattering barriers to educational access such as location and income, greatly increasing both access and equity.
4. Zoom/Video Conferencing
The experience of the past year begs the question: where would we have been without Zoom? The popular platform, together with other videoconferencing apps such as Skype and Google Hangouts, have kept us working, learning, and communicating throughout the crisis. But what does the future hold in store? One fascinating innovation entails the use of AI-powered video compression: a snapshot is taken of a user’s face at the beginning of the stream, which is then reassembled at the other end through a series of data points. Together with higher speeds, the resulting savings in bandwidth will result in crystal-clear calls. Add to this the possibility of instant language translations and a whole new generation of video conferencing is close to being a reality.
One fascinating application of superfast internet will be the greater use of robots powered by artificial intelligence – including artificial mascots. Robotic dogs – such as Sony’s AIBO (Artificial Intelligence RoBOt) – have existed in one form or another since the 1990’s, but newer models will be capable of doing much more: with AIBOware software, robots can be raised from pups to fully-grown adults, understand a hundred or more voice commands, and even engage in speech, blogging, and autonomous room mapping. Best of all, they don’t have to be cleaned up after. While robotic dogs may seem a bit frivolous, the implications for robotic helpers – and sure, also mascots – to help seniors and people with disabilities are exciting to imagine.
Let’s Finish the Job
Thanks to these and other advances, a future of greater convenience, connectivity, opportunity, and security is waiting to open out before us: but only if we finish the job and get America to 100% connectivity. With millions of rural Americans lacking access to high-speed broadband, that means expanding our network, partnering with companies that have proven experience in bringing service to in-need areas, and empowering assistance programs to make sure everyone gets connected. To find out how you can get involved in the effort to finish the job, click here.