The Net: from Sega to outer space

Summary:The Internet industry now is at a similar evolutionary stage as the telephone industry was in 1898 -- and what's ahead is going to make the revolutionary advances of the last few years look like small change, Web guru and MCI executive Vint Cerf predicted in a speech Tuesday at the Internet Executive Summit conference in Washington.

The Internet industry now is at a similar evolutionary stage as the telephone industry was in 1898 -- and what's ahead is going to make the revolutionary advances of the last few years look like small change, Web guru and MCI executive Vint Cerf predicted in a speech Tuesday at the Internet Executive Summit conference in Washington.

Cerf, who boasts an impressive Web pedigree along with his telecommunications credentials as senior vice president of MCI, told the group that while traffic over voice networks is growing at a rate of 5 to 10 percent per year, Internet traffic is growing at 80 to 110 percent annually, leading to demand for online access in increasingly unlikely, remote places.



Hear an archive of Vint Cerf's speech at the Internet Executive Summit.




"Both Nintendo and Sega are putting Internet access on their game platforms," and the capability for real-time audio- and videoconferencing among players of Web-based games seeking a more realistic experience is probably not far off, Cerf said.

And with NASA explorers now looking more seriously at the possibility of establishing permanent outposts in space, "interplanetary Internet access" is also on the horizon, he said.

"Just yesterday, we met with some people from [NASA's] Jet Propulsion Laboratory to talk about ways to provide access" to far-flung points in space, he said.

Within a few years, technology with less-glitzy functions such as controlling all the lights and appliances in your home via the Internet will become cheap enough to be used by many consumers, he predicted.

As further evidence of the amazing frontiers being opened up by the Web, Cerf told the story of his wife's online search for health care information that ultimately helped restore the hearing she had lost some 50 years earlier.

Using the Net, she was able to track the progress of doctors developing an artificial inner ear, and eventually to contact them and have an operation to have the device implanted, Cerf said. The device -- which functions by sending signals back and forth to a small computerized device his wife carries with her -- allows her to hear "more or less normally, where before she had nothing," he said.

Topics: Nasa / Space, Health, Networking

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.