Usually, when predicting the future of technology, analysts tend to look decades into future as shorter periods of time, such as five years, don't always bring dramatic change.
Take desktop PCs, for instance. Today's desktop machine isn't that different from its 2005 predecessor. However, web browsers are undergoing major changes that will alter our day-to-day computing lives.
Not only will web browsers become commonplace in cars, but they'll also incorporate voice recognition, text-to-speech, and touch-less gesture controls for applications where keypads, touchpads, and even touchscreens can be either inconvenient (smartphones) or downright dangerous (when driving). Browsers will stream internet radio to our cars, and perhaps even adopt a 3D-style interface - only without the clunky glasses.
"You're going to see tremendous innovation in the browser space in the coming years," says Linus Upson, Google's vice president of engineering.
"We really want the web as a platform to get to the point where you can do anything on the web that you can do on Windows, the Mac, or the iPhone."
Google envisions a future where the browser runs all of your applications - including eye-grabbing 3D games, seamless language translations, and even grammar corrections. Though some of these features exist in rudimentary form today, they'll be far more capable within five years.
As today's tech-lab projects turn mainstream, the browser will take on a new look and feel. AMD's Fusion Media Explorer, a 3D browser designed to showcase the multimedia capabilities of the chipmaker's processors, features drag-and-drop uploading to Facebook and other social networks, and even has a rotating 3D interface for browsing media files.
An Israel-based start-up called EyeSight Mobile Technologies is developing touch-less gesture controls for Android phones: Swipe your hand over a front-facing camera, for instance, and you can navigate your photo gallery. Meanwhile, Google is building voice recognition and text-to-speech functionality for browsers. And then there is Opera Software's free Opera browser which has pioneered voice and mouse-gesture browsing. No wonder that major automakers, including Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Mercedes, are experimenting with ways to add browsers to cars and trucks.
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