I first starting thinking about human/machine augmentations in 2000 when I started a company focused in the Telco software space. Initially, I focused on how to enable wireless content development, but at that time, devices were primitive. High speed networks hadn't fully taken on in many areas of the U.S. for mobile networks and the feeble attempts at standardization were clearly doomed. We pivoted the company to focus on speech-enabled voice applications over normal telephones.
In 2005, once again, I was intrigued by the emergence of augmenting human/machine relations by the idea of "multi-modal" applications; the concept that you could use different modes of computer input and output that are better suited for human beings. For example, I might prefer to use voice to input a question in the form of "how would I get to 123 Main Street?" to the computer. However, the results would be more realistic in the form of a visual map with turn-by-turn driving directions instead of the computer reading them back to me in voice. At that time, mobile devices had severe limitations of both processing power and memory that made it difficult to make it work for broader use. Worse, if you could build the capability, you couldn't easily distribute it to end users as the carriers owned distributions with an iron fist and each network was different and very complicated.
Steve Jobs and Apple changed all of that in 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone. Having spent a few years thinking about many great ideas that were not practical to deliver, I was immediately struck at the opportunity in front of us as human beings. The relationship of human/machine interaction at that point changed forever. The "real" personal computer was invented; that beige box under my desk was no longer the future and certainly wasn't personal anymore.
Fast forward five years and Apple's Siri is now popular and we have the ability to create amazing applications with new experiences possible within hours, not months or years. We have the ability to click on a button and make these applications available to hundreds of millions of devices on hundreds of networks all around the world almost instantly. We can create these experiences without much involvement from anyone.
Human interactions with machines will never be the same again. I once heard Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, say that the next two to three decades will be about machines augmenting our lives as humans, and hopefully, making them better. For the past two decades, we humans have had to keep up our machines—we run regular anti-virus software, clean the hard disk to recover lost space, and have to manage our "inbox". When's the last time you got lost in the modern world with the advent of Google Maps on your phone?
Augmented Reality is one large area of opportunity where we can digitally overlay computer augmented interactions, information, and experiences, and represent them on a real-world viewport. In the future, our human experiences will be constantly be made better and more interesting with the help of computers. Much like Google search has made the collective human brain more accessible and readily available at our finger tips, Augmented Reality is the next wave of this in a new presentation context such as phones, tablets and eventually across other types of devices such as cars and TVs.
Our mission at Appcelerator has been to enable this new wave of innovation and creative experiences by lowering the cost of development and making it more accessible to developers worldwide through Titanium.
Trevor has been a long-time friend of Appcelerator and a passionate and knowledgeable member of our community. This books explores how to use Titanium to create your own experiences to help make humanity a slightly better place than it was before.