Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.
Log into your airline's website. Check in. Print out your boarding pass. Hope you don't lose it en route to the airport. When it's time to fly home, wait in line at the airport because you lacked access to a printer at the hotel. Can't we come up with a better way?
What is it?
The idea of the paperless office has been with us since Bill Gates was in short trousers, but no matter how sophisticated your OS or your use of digital files in lieu of printouts, they're of no help once you leave your desk.
People need printouts of maps, receipts and instructions and, often, accessing a PC isn't convenient. PDAs failed to fill that need, so replacements are coming to the rescue: mobile phones.
Applications to eliminate the need for a printout in nearly any situation are flooding the market. Cellfire.com offers mobile coupons you can pull up on your phone and show in a shop or restaurant; Tickets.com now makes concert tickets available on mobile phones via its Tickets@Phone service.
The final frontier, though, remains the airline boarding pass, which has resisted this step since the advent of web-based check-in.
When is it coming?
There's already a handful of mobile phone apps that replace paper; even paperless boarding passes are creeping forward.
US airline Continental has been experimenting with a mobile-phone check-in system that lets you show an encrypted, 2D barcode on your phone to a TSA agent in lieu of a paper boarding pass.
The agent scans the barcode with an ordinary scanner and you're on your way. Introduced at the Houston Intercontinental Airport, the pilot project became permanent earlier this year; Continental rolled it out in three other airports in 2008. The company promises more airports to come.
NEXT PAGE: Location, location, location
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- 32-core computing
- 64bit computing with more RAM
- Windows 7 – inevitably
- SuperSpeed USB
- Goodbye graphics cards
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- Gesture recognition
- Curtains for DRM
- The Google PC
- Your fingers do even more walking
- Mobile-phone ticketing
- Location, location, location