'Digital bubbles' and virtual reality - our world in five years

BT futurologists makes bold predictions...

BT futurologists makes bold predictions...

Social networking will move from the computer to the street while an "augmented reality" will become part of our lives over the next few years.

These are some of the predictions from BT futurologist Ian Pearson whose job is to look at how new and emerging technologies will impact society. He told silicon.com: "I track technology as it's coming over the horizon."

Pearson said social networking is an important development at the moment. But he added the websites that exist now - such as Bebo, Facebook and MySpace - are primitive compared to what could be around in three to five years' time.

He said in the near future people could wear "digital bubble" devices similar to badges which will "radiate their web presence".

The badges will transmit information - such as job title or hobbies - to other people's devices as they walk down the street. This info will be displayed to the wearer who could then choose to engage with other individuals based on common interests.

Pearson said: "It's the next step [of social networking]."

The challenge will be to make the sensory side of the technology work in a secure manner so people are able to avoid unwanted attention, he added.

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Social networking
Web 2.0

Another of Pearson's predictions is that virtual content will start to appear all around us in the coming years, with content from the internet forming an "augmented reality" that people will experience every day.

For instance, buildings could have "dual architecture" with a physical but also a virtual appearance which would broadcast information to passer-bys such as the name of the businesses located within. People could also receive information from the businesses such as news or stock prices as they walk by.

Pearson predicted the biggest change in IT over the next few years for businesses will be the "rapid growth in memory stick capacity".

He said soon people will be able to carry all the files they ever need on memory sticks meaning they could plug into any PC and work at their convenience.