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Futurist Michael Rogers: 7 Predictions for the High-Tech Living Room

What will the living room look like in the coming years? NYT's futurist-in-residence and CEDIA Expo 2015 keynote speaker, Michael A. Rogers, opines on the near-future of home technology.


Futurist Michael Rogers: 7 Predictions for the High-Tech Living Room
NYT futurist and CEDIA Expo 2015 keynote Michael A. Rogers dishes on the future living room: telepresence, wearables, home shopping and more.
CE Pro Editors · October 1, 2015
Michael A. Rogers, the New York Times futurist-in-residence and columnist for MSNBC.com, will present the opening keynote at CEDIA Expo 2015. In advance of the speech, CEDIA asked Rogers to share some predictions on the high-tech living room of the future. The insights seem particularly relevant to integrators, so with CEDIA's permission, we have re-posted their piece in its entirety here. Don't miss Rogers's presentation, Oct. 14, 5:30 pm, Forks Ballroom at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. -- Ed.

Technology is moving so fast that it’s fun to try to imagine what the American living room might look like a decade from now. We asked futurist Michael Rogers, who will deliver the CEDIA EXPO 2015 Opening Keynote, to share some insights. Here are seven predictions.

1. The Family Home Page. “In 10 years, the oldest Millennials will be in their early 40s—they will be the customers for sophisticated home systems,” Rogers observes. “The implication in the biggest sense is that they will want a home screen in the living room, kitchen, or great room that integrates the Internet of Things in the house—what I call the true home page.”

Think of it as “the refrigerator door for a digital age” controlled by voice, facial recognition, and gesture. “This is a generation that will want to track things electronically and expects to see a display,” which might include a family Facebook page, calendars to track the whereabouts of family members, GPS with mapping, health monitoring, an energy interface, and more.

2. A la Carte Streaming. Except for legacy collections, physical media will be all but gone thanks to continuing advances in data compression. “For purists, there might be a step past Ultra HD that comes on physical media, but it’s not going to be significant,” Rogers predicts. “We’re going to see streaming delivery by multiple a la carte providers, maybe package providers. But the cable delivery model [as we know it today] is doomed.”

That doesn’t mean cable companies and telcos will go away. Rather, they will develop new services that go beyond programming packages. “They will add value by focusing on what I call the seamless hand-off: making sure you have uninterrupted Internet access wherever you are—from home to your car to work and to walk-a-ways on the public network...The new spectrum for public Wi-Fi will be important to make that possible.”

3. The Floor-to-Ceiling TV. “Really large-scale OLED will be an economical proposition by 2025,” Rogers predicts. “OLED, or something similar to OLED, could be that 6-foot-wide, tall-as-your-ceiling kind of screen. And although “LCD is going to get edged out by OLED over the next five years,” Rogers see advances in manufacturing that could lead LCD to a very affordable large screen.

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4. A Wearable Second Screen. Although smart glasses have stalled in today’s market while Google rethinks the technology, Rogers believes we will see some “real adoption” of smart glasses and smart watches by 2025. “The smart watch may actually end up being more like the smart bracelet where the entire wristband is used as a display device or input device. If you had smart glasses, would you wear them while you’re watching television? Quite possibly. That might be the new place for the second screen.”

5. Virtual Reality in the Living Room. “We’re at a time in human history where we are beginning to move more and more of what we do into the virtual world,” Rogers explains. “That trend is not going to stop. We’re finally seeing a learning curve on consumer virtual reality...VR content is going to be very complicated and expensive to make, but it’s going to provide a level of realism that just blows everything away. And I think it’s going to become the niche for high-fidelity experiences.”

Rogers sees a whole new class of games emerging where players interact with lifelike objects, perhaps playing virtual tennis or ping-pong. Or you might be a character in a virtual world you’re sharing with others. “Because this is the generation that is totally into gaming, there’s a very interesting set of possibilities for gesture-based gaming…With a really large low-cost screen and very low latency Ultra HD, you can have a pretty good gaming experience where you’re competing with people who are as tall as you are.”

6. …and Telepresence, Too. Uses for a towering screen will go beyond pure entertainment. “Millennials will also be interested in connecting with grandma and grandpa from the living room,” Rogers observes. “We’ll have plenty of bandwidth to do that by then, so there will be an interest in using that big screen for [life-size] telepresence.”

7. HSN on Steroids. Virtual shopping will be huge, allowing us to get a real sense of what we’re shopping for on that huge screen. “There’s a crude attempt at this now with eyeglass shopping, but 10 years from now you will have a pretty realistic avatar of yourself that will model things for you,” Rogers predicts. “The other piece is social shopping—the idea that you and your friends simultaneously ‘go to’ Sunglass Hut to try on sunglasses. It’s a media experience in your living room, not a physical experience. Or maybe you do that initially and later you actually go to the store.”

“Ten years from now the TV is not really a screen anymore so much as a window into a virtual world.”

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