written by @kristinedottech

Population — 8.5 billion. Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite programme that was launched 8 years ago has been a roaring success. Earlier investments have paid themselves off, so Elon, against his investors’ wishes, had decided to make it free, so everyone on the planet has access to fast, reliable internet.

This decision had a significant effect on what back then were known as ‘developing countries’ — people from those ‘developing countries’ gained access to free education programmes, have a greater ability to obtain good employment and the benefits that come with it. The disparity between social classes had begun to dramatically decrease, and poverty as such was almost completely eliminated. This lead to a vast increase in globalisation.

As a result of these conditions, most people have chosen to live in countries other than the country of their origin.

This massive increase in global productivity and economic advances did not come without its cost. Just as it did in the western world during the industrial revolution, so too with the rest of the world — rapid developments in then ‘developing countries’ had further contributed to climate change.

To minimise limitations on the global supply chain, governments worldwide have had to tax leisure travel more heavily. This lead to leisure travel becoming a lot more expensive and long-haul travel becoming highly discouraged.

As a result of increased globalisation, people and families have become a lot more geographically displaced, often resulting in families not being able to meet physically. It is not uncommon for families and friends to go on for an extremely long time without physically meeting.

Dwellings, office buildings and houses come equipped with mandatory solar panels, wind turbines and batteries to produce and store the energy they have produced, water and air filters to ensure safe habitation.

The majority of dwellings in urban as well as rural areas have IoT technology as standard, and it is unusual to see an appliance that isn’t connected to the internet.

As a result of separation from family, friends and loved ones, technology has, as always, plugged the gap. A hologram technology projecting people from far away into their space is as common now as owning a Nespresso coffee machine was back in 2020.

You’re in your lounge, sitting in your favourite chair. Following your gaze, in a 3-dimensional space directly in front of you is a life-like hologram projection of your mother. You can see a portion of her couch and the cosy blanket she is covered with.

This projection appears to be positioned at the right height, as if the couch was in your living room. If you look below the projection, you would see the floor is covered with a carpet-like material that is wirelessly connected to both the source of power and the internet.

You look back at the projection, and you see that your mother’s dining room table blends seamlessly with yours. A warm cup of your coffee on your table aligns perfectly with freshly baked cookies on hers — you can almost smell them!

This spectacle of blending worlds is achieved by the sensors in the corners of your living room. These sensors sense objects in your room, and your mother has the same setup on her side. This allows both of you to position objects, in this case, your dining room tables, in such a way that when you both use it, it is as though you’re sat at the same table.

The table looks just like an ordinary dining room table, with the only visible difference being an occasional black panel that interrupts an otherwise minimalistic pattern on the surface. These panels are part of the broader setup. These are haptic feedback panels. When you place your hand on the panel, your mother can feel this interaction — the pressure, temperature and pattern of your touch seamlessly transmits to the haptic feedback pad on her side.

By now, users of all ages use this kind of technology to keep up with their family. It is no surprise that the young generation took to this technology like a duck to water. They probably skipped the onboarding and dove straight in — birthday parties, schools and general hangouts are all augmented nowadays.

The working generation uses this a lot for work. Distributed teams no longer feel excluded. This is so common in the offices, they no longer list it as a ‘benefit’. It is just accepted that you will have to work with physical and holographic teammates side by side. They call them ‘hollies’.

“Will Jon be joining us today?”

“Yes, he’ll hollie”

What came as a surprise to the technology developers and distributors is just how popular this technology is with the generation in retirement homes. Some stay in their rooms and never leave, developing a sort of dependency on this technology for company and comfort.

If only this was as common-place in 2020 as it is today, SARS-CoV-2 and the subsequent outbreaks wouldn’t have lasted until today.

UX Researcher, Product Manager and MA student of UX Design and Human Factors. Passionate about data, UX, AIX, MLUX and Product Development.

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