Ebenezer Scrooge is treated to a time-travelling Christmas in order to show him the error of his ways courtesy of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol. And this set me thinking about our Christmas past, present and future considering the abundance of bandwidth and technology now available to us in Dorset.
Let’s start with the past…10 years ago, in fact. Leon Jackson (who?) was number 1 in the charts, the average broadband speed was 3Mbps and the top technological wonders we were marvelling at on Christmas morning included digital camcorders with a full 6.1 megapixels of definition, GPS navigation systems for our cars and the Sony DVD direct which would let you transfer all your home movies from VHS to DVD.
But the number 1 coveted item for many that year was the new-fangled iPhone from Apple.
Fast forward to the present and your trusty smartphone can do all of the things that you would have needed several devices to accomplish 10 years ago. It can also do them better. For example, the new iPhone has an 8.1 megapixel camera able to shoot ultra HD movies and at the same time can give you directions to your nearest take away.
You no longer need to transfer VHS to DVD because DVDs are so last year and you can upload everything to the cloud thanks to the widespread availability of superfast broadband across Dorset as a result of the multi-million pound Superfast Dorset programme and investment by private sector businesses, such as Openreach. Latest figures show that 96 per cent of Dorset households and businesses can now get superfast speeds of 24Mbps (megabits per second) or more.
It has been a massive feat of engineering by Openreach planners and engineers with thousands of miles of optical fibres and hundreds of fibre broadband cabinets installed at the request of Dorset County Council and its partners.
But there is still much to do. Technology is moving very quickly. Bandwidth requirements are estimated to be increasing by 60 per cent each year as we make ever greater use of the internet to communicate, access essential services and be entertained.
So what is the Ghost of Christmas Future likely to bring us in 10 years’ time?
We will see wearable technology become far more common place and most of us will probably have smart watches, but they will be smarter and all the functions will be voice activated. Pressing and tapping buttons will be so retro.
Or how about some sort of device that goes on your head similar to Google glass? Augmented/ Mixed Reality, as it’s called, will be far more sophisticated than it is today. The device will be less obtrusive and much better to look at and those Star Trek-inspired spectacles will be able to project information onto a display in front of you about the area around you, give you directions to where you want to go, allow you to watch video and project you into a Virtual Reality world as well.
Not only will you be able to have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world, your wearable super glasses will project an image of that person in front of you and make it seem like they are in the same room. 360 degree cameras will capture video all around you all the time, so you can relive special moments over again as if you were there.
However, I am sad to say that you will still find the same Christmas jumper from your Auntie Mabel – but even that might be a wee bit better. We are already starting to see clothing appear that has microchips built into the cuffs so you can pay for items just by waving your hand in front of the till or monitor the wearer’s health so that issues can be picked up earlier.
It might sound a bit far-fetched, but technology is developing at a relentlessly fast pace and, if you ever find yourself thinking ‘why should I upgrade to Superfast Broadband?’, well, you are making yourself future proof, making sure you are ready to utilise these amazing technologies to their best advantage the moment they are available.
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