Technology is becoming a tool for expanding human senses and abilities. This requires intelligent and immersive interfaces. Will voice, gesture and thought control soon replace keyboards and touchscreens?
Reply’s study, conducted with the trend platform SONAR, examines trend-setting concepts for interfaces between humans and computers – Human-Machine Interfaces – which are now becoming real possibilities for communication between humans and machines. For companies, there is significant potential for more personalised and emotional customer interaction as well as new possibilities for the visualisation and analysis of information.
20 million people worldwide already use voice assistants daily to search for information, make purchases or play music. Also, in the corporate environment, voice assistants enable a completely new way of using technology and automate many tasks. The smart assistants perform entire tasks, record things or make calls without any human intervention. This increases productivity and leaves employees with more time for challenging tasks. Through voice interfaces devices can be controlled using voice input, and smart software agents will be able to perform an increasing number of services in the future. What’s more, electronic in-ear devices, so-called hearables, can be used for a wide range of applications, from wireless data transmission to communication services.
Extended Reality (XR)
The technologies combined under XR enable barrier-free interaction between man and machine and eliminate geographical distances. They revolutionise people interaction with the environment: Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality support consumer decision, reduce costs, increase efficiency and a more productive environment. Other emerging trends include gesture control and 3D displays, which create a virtual three-dimensional image of an object and offer interactive possibilities. Smart glasses, which provide the wearer with additional information about what they are seeing, are also among the XR trends.
Full immersion technologies allow the direct exchange of information between man and machine. Advances in fully immersive technologies and neurosciences show that a world in which people are fully connected to computers is coming. Scientific research in medicine is leading the way into a future in which the human brain can control computers with mere thoughts and exchange ideas via headsets or brain implants. Companies are already working on neurally controlled interfaces. They offer direct communication channels between a networked brain and external devices. Another trend technologies are in the area of augmented bodies, which aim to strengthen the human body and its performance using things such as implants or electronic tattoos.
Furthermore, the study also identifies four visions that could soon become reality:
- Sending thoughts: ideas, feelings and memories to be shared directly with other people.
- Human enhancement: by directly connecting the brain with computers, AI-controlled assistants and the Internet, know-how can be downloaded into the brain or expanded with super-intelligent AI systems.
- Neural healthcare: immersive technologies may enable people to recover from diseases that are still incurable today, such as Parkinson’s or paralysis.
- Virtual copies: by connecting to computers, a person’s thoughts, memories and feelings can be stored as data and, one day, may even make a complete virtual copy of the brain possible.
“Communication between man and machine is one of the most exciting topics of our time. Technologies at the interface between us and intelligent systems will enable a paradigm shift in all areas of life in the near future. The resulting new products and services will offer completely new solutions for telling stories and visualising information. The three trends identified by SONAR and the four visions provide companies with guidance on their journey towards digital transformation,” says Filippo Rizzante, CTO Reply.
The Human Machine Interfaces report is part of a series published on the following topics AI, Retail Revolution and Consumer-IoT.
To read the full study, please click here.