It’s hard to predict exactly what the future of the internet will look like because new technology is evolving so rapidly, but there’s no doubt that the newest iteration of the web will transform virtually every part of our economy and society.
What exactly do I mean by the Internet of the future? I’m talking about the third evolution of the web, where online life will become more decentralized and immersive. This phase follows web1, based on static websites, and web2, featuring user-generated content and driven by social media companies such as Tencent and Facebook.
You can use the terms web3 and future internet interchangeably.
While these terms may mean slightly different things to different people, there are predictions I can make as a futurist about how web3 technologies will work and affect how we live, work, and play.
Here are five trends that could affect the future of the internet:
The Metaverse and immersive experiences
In the future of the internet, digital (online) activities will merge with virtual and physical worlds to create lifelike and immersive experiences. Brands, schools, employers and individuals will all operate their own virtual worlds where people can come together to learn, play, work or socialize.
The metaverse, a persistent and shared digital environment in which we can switch between activities with the same avatar, digital assets and preferences, brings together technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and digital twins to create a more immersive environment , realistic and immersive Internet.
The rise of decentralization
In the decentralized internet, power and control are distributed rather than centralized. In the future, the internet will increasingly be powered by decentralized technologies such as blockchain and peer-to-peer networks rather than being controlled by a few government bodies or large corporations. This would allow for more privacy and security and reduce censorship. A decentralized internet will also enable new types of applications and services that are not possible on the current centralized internet.
Three concepts that play a central role in web3 are:
Blockchains: A method of storing information based on distributed processing, encryption and transparency.
Cryptocurrencies: Digital currencies used for secure financial transactions that are performed on blockchain networks.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT): Digital assets that represent ownership of a unique object or resource. NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded securely online, and each NFT represents a unique item or asset, such as a work of art, a collectible, or even a tweet.
Decentralized Applications (dApps): Digital applications running on a blockchain, outside the control of a single authority.
Hardware innovations like glasses, goggles, and headsets will help accelerate the next iteration of the future Internet.
Big tech companies are not only creating state-of-the-art VR headsets for when we want a fully immersive internet experience, but they are also working on devices like smart glasses that we can wear comfortably while walking and interacting in the real world.
I recently tried out a prototype smart glasses made by Viture. These glasses look like regular sunglasses, but show a virtual 120-inch screen in front of your face. With these glasses, I could block out the real world to play games or watch a video, or look through them just like normal glasses.
The smart glasses of the future will bring augmented reality to life by displaying digital images and information in front of our eyes as we move through our days. This will be a way to incorporate AR into the way we work, play and live.
It might be possible that with this new wearable technology we could reach a point where we won’t need smartphones anymore.
Body augmentation is the use of technology to enhance or modify the human body. In our current society, we’re already altering our bodies, including things like implanting devices like cochlear implants for hearing or pacemakers to control heart function.
As part of the future of the internet, body augmentation will go further. Mojo Vision is developing AR contact lenses that place micro-LED displays inside the wearer’s eyes. Imagine being able to wear these lenses and see weather information, chat messages, or AR information about the world around you.
Some companies are pushing body augmentation even further and trying to connect our brain directly to the internet. Neural virtual reality combines virtual reality technology with brain-computer interfaces (BCI) to create immersive and interactive experiences that are directly linked to an individual’s nervous system.
With neural virtual reality, users can control and interact with virtual environments and objects using their own thoughts rather than traditional input devices such as a keyboard or controller.
Companies like Neurable, Meta, and Elon Musks’ Neuralink project are all working on BCIs that have the potential to revolutionize how we interact with the future of the internet.
Bringing touch and sound to the internet
Developers are also hard at work on devices and wearables that allow us to experience the internet on deeper levels using a full range of senses.
There are already haptic suits like the Teslasuit that can deliver a full-body experience that simulates real touch, but they’re currently out of reach for most VR users. In the future, haptic devices like gloves will become more accessible for everyday users, and wearable, lightweight tactile patches will offer a sense of human touch over long distances.
Sound will also play an incredibly important role in the future Internet. With spatial audio, we will be able to enjoy 360-degree sound in our virtual experiences and communications. Companies will also need to put more thought into their sound branding, the use of music or audio elements to create their own unique, consistent and memorable audio identity.
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