Top 5 Predictions for How Society Will Adapt to the Next Wave of Video Traffic

February 8, 2011 - 9 Comments

Last week, I tweeted about the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010 to 2015. According to the report, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 26-fold.

Two major global trends are driving these significant increases: a continued surge in mobile-ready devices such as tablets and smart phones, and widespread mobile video content consumption.

The Cisco study estimates that by 2015, there will be a mobile connected device for nearly every member of the world’s population.

So what does this mean? Well, for one thing, it’s a harbinger that it’s time to get our WAN architectures ready for the flood of video traffic. What happens when you don’t? Aside from the obvious—you deliver a frustrating and dissatisfying media experience—you also put other network applications at risk of going down.

If that’s not enough to spur you to take another look at your WAN, consider my top five predictions for what this tsunami of video traffic might lead to from a cultural trending perspective:

1.     Shop ‘Til You Drop. The shopping experience is going to completely transform. No longer will the experience be limited to strolling through stores and browsing merchandise. Or, hoping for the best when buying online. Instead, we will see retailers find fresh ways to use video to help us experience goods even before we buy them. Think virtual reality models that can show us in a car, speeding along a country road or wearing clothing in a multitude of settings. The new shopping experience will have you front and center.

2.     The Road Less Travelled. As Telepresence and 3-D TV become more mainstream, the travel industry is going to have to retool its business model to get us out of our home bases. We’re already quite comfortable socializing online and these additional forms of wherever-you-are entertainment will make it that much harder to get us out the door.

3.     It’s Right There in Front of You. As wherever-you-are entertainment takes root, a movement of Personal Entertainment Networks will be launched. Their promise: the ability to see what you want, wherever you are – your own personal video stream, fed to you by special eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other optical implants, regardless of your location.

4.     Dial V for Video. Video calling will become the standard. This will be the final sweep of inhibitions for using video as a primary calling mechanism.

5.     It’s All in Your Head. As video becomes the preferred means of communications, scientists will discover innovative ways to integrate video into our lives, to the point where it’s no longer limited to standalone devices. What might this look like? Implants in your head or clothing, giving you the ability to record anything and everything you do or see and play it back to anyone.

Think my ideas are off base? Time will tell. But if so, at least I’ll be in good company. For a fun look at some famously failed predictions, check out this oldie but goodie from the Wall Street Journal. My favorite: “No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer—640K ought to be enough for anybody,” Bill Gates, Microsoft, 1981.

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  1. The first point about shopping technology is very interesting and I don’t think we are too far away from this – we already have 3D (ie rotatable) images on ecommerce websites for things like furniture. The next step would be to have auto generated videos of models wearing the clothes I choose which match, maybe even ability to customise those virtual avatars to look like me and then show me wearing different styles in different settings. I guess that can be done with a blend of virtual and real video footage – very interesting idea thinking about it!

  2. I agree with the 3D – it will work great with travel and leisure industry such as hotel rooms, theme parks, resorts etc. It will take marketing to a whole new level.

  3. Time *will* tell… Throw in a little v6 and we’ll have ourselves a revolution!

    It has been said that IPv6 has yet to take off to the main stream Internet due to a lull in Industry innovations. Could video be that catalyst needed for v6 to explode?

  4. Hi there,

    This all sounds terrifying! But then most things do when they’re described in grandiose conceptual terms. In fact, it’ll be interesting to see how these concepts come to fruition on an everyday basis. For instance, I can see the number of traffic accidents increasing exponentially if video can be streamed through glasses. But in practice I doubt that’d be allowed to become the case. Hmm. Interesting anyway!

    Pete @ Pure FX

  5. I don’t think your ideas are off base.

    I have already changed my TV habits from watching directly to watch practically everything from my hard disc recorder. I simply set down and select what I want to watch for the next couple of days ad then it is right there I front of me when ever I want to se a program.

  6. I think a challenge for the communication providers is to provide a system that allows the mobile user to use his or her device, seemlessly, as they move across the globe.

  7. This is great. I hope it all comes true.

  8. I love your predictions, but I have to think that there are some major bio-tech leaps necessary before we’re watching DVDs through our contact lenses.

    As for the rest of it, I think you’re dead on. Especially with number 2. The available virtual video world will likely provide less incentive for people to travel, but I feel like rising oil prices and increased scarcity will drive the cost of travel way up…and despite our efforts toward renewable and efficient energy sources my prediction is that we’ll still be largely dependent on oil 5 years from now as well.

  9. Wow, I can’t believe that Bill Gates prediction! When you think that the average USB flash drive is 4GB now it just highlights the speed at which things have advanced!

    ‘a mobile connected device for nearly every member of the world’s population’ – I think I better get on with designing mobile versions of my websites!

    Here’s my photography based prediction: I think digital still cameras will become so advanced and automated that multiple shots will be taken every time you compose and take a picture. Each frame within the multiple shot will be captured with a different focal plane so that in post processing you will be able select and alter where you want the focus of the image. I may be so wrong and I wouldn’t like to guess the implications this might have on file size but hey you never know!