Recently, I attended Detroit’s ConnecTech event “Emerging and Disruptive Technologies” presented by Jackie Fenn from Gartner. Fenn, originator of the Gartner Hype Cycle and co-author of “Mastering the Hype Cycle,” provided some really insightful food for thought related to the disruptive technologies of tomorrow and how they will change the way we live and work.

Fenn discussed several technology sectors including cloud computing, virtual worlds/social platforms, user interfaces, Real World Web, 3-D printing and human augmentation. I found user interfaces and human augmentation to be most fascinating of the technologies reviewed at the event.

Fenn indicated that interface changes, like touch technologies, will be commonly used to access information in 2010. Yes, just two years from now. So for example, touch-screen tabletop computing is a new user interface that will emerge as the latest and greatest way to work. I see it as Microsoft’s Surface PC or an iPhone for PCs and the part that excites me most about this is how much cleaner my desk will look – I know, it’s simple but I love it.

Fenn also discussed human augmentation, indicating that it will no longer be considered technologies that bring an injured person back to normal human function (for example, artificial legs). It will soon put function over form and make a “healthy” person improved beyond their normal human function. Essentially, today it’s about restoring “normal” performance levels and tomorrow it will be about achieving above-normal performance levels – enhancing senses and physical characteristics – and making the idea of “normal” obsolete.

So for example, this will be accomplished via implants and prosthetics among others. Everyday people, not just athletes, may soon be able to run 100 meters in 10 seconds and even achieve infrared vision. Ok, maybe not quite 10 seconds … but I’m sure it’s in the works. I see sport ethics being questioned even further as these technologies begin to spread.

— Jennifer Ristic

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