What's going to happen with computing in the future? I think that's a question that everyone asks at one point or another. I know I've pondered it quite a few times, which in turn drove me to write my opinion on what I think it will be like.
Computers have completely changed our lives in practically every way. Check out Chris's article on Technology In Our Lives for a good idea of how much we really are affected by computers and technology that is powered by computing one way or another. I think the biggest impact with computing has to be the Internet, and I think the internet will also be the biggest aspect of computing that impacts the future as well.
The Internet has changed the way everything works, and this is why it will direct computing into its future. Everything we use from our clothes, appliances, jewelry, etc. will be accessible to the Internet as well as your computer. Wireless computing will be the way to go. In fact, recently a technology was developed for laptop users, which allow you to connect to the Internet at 19Kbps without any sort of phone line connected. It's the beginning of wireless broadband. If this can be done, there's no stopping everything else. Another cool thing in development are circuit boards that are bendable and as thin as paper. This means that you could have a circuit board woven into your clothes, or even paper, the possibilities with that are endless.
Your vehicle will be your next computer; it will have Internet access of course, and GPS, which is an option for vehicles now. But look for things like voice-activated GPS that automatically drive your car to where you need to go. The future of cars is a whole new topic within itself.
A big thing that has gained a lot of popularity now are PDAs. These are things like Palm Pilots and Handspring Visors. PDAs will really be a huge part of wireless computing, as they are even now. The new generation of palm pilots will be even smaller, support more websites, voice activated, longer battery lives, and will be powered by processors from companies like VIA and Transmeta. They will also be able to do more things I think, and will be much more compatible with software used in regular PCs.
Video will be a HUGE thing, and as long as broadband and wireless broadband gets more widespread, it can only get more popular. We will be able to videoconference from PC To PC in full screen, crystal clear video that streams perfectly. Even on things like PDAs and watches, we'll have clear video all done without wires. A step closer to this is a video camera that was just released. This camera doesn't have to be attached to a computer, but can still do video ok. As this technology is improved, video will become the next generation of the Internet, which brings me to the next section.
Like I mentioned before, the Internet will be accessed anywhere by almost anything. It will basically become point and click, as speeds will not be a problem anymore. Most importantly, the Internet will be everywhere, including countries, which do not have It right now. Also, a new generation of Internet will be available. A mix of computer animation and video will do this. Sites will be 3D worlds. Yes I know about VRML and how that never really took off, but somehow it will be different. Also closer to these times, a new graphics standard will take over GIF and JPEG files called PNG (Portable Network Graphic). This format has the color support that JPEGs do, but also allow the compression that GIFs do. It will also have more types of transparency, not to mention it's free. Here's something I read in PC Magazine, Internet printing will become more popular. Using a technology called IPP (Internet Printing Protocol) that will let you print from any printer using that printers URL. This is already supported by most of the printer companies, and has support in Windows 2000.