The Sci-Fi Future of A/V

A lot of writers like to end their articles with a paragraph or two about where the industry is likely to go in the future. "Digital," they say, "everything
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A lot of writers like to end their articles with a paragraph or two about where the industry is likely to go in the future. "Digital," they say, "everything will be digital." Big surprise.

They call this the "digital revolution," which is silly because a revolution usually means things change in an appreciable and sudden way. The transition from analog to digital has been about the most gradual and polite revolution I’ve ever seen! You want a revolution? Try the Russian Revolution! Or the French Revolution! Heads in baskets, peasants burning antique furniture—that was a revolution! And it was all analog, too.

No, the so-called digital revolution isn’t any kind of overnight change after which things are never the same. Instead, we get a steady ramping up of digital power that is bound to continue long into The Future. It’s not revolution so much as steady improvement.

But let’s skip ahead 220 years to 2222! Now let’s look at A/V! Follow me, Daniel Ari, to the Outside of A/V in—THE FUTURE!

TV Houses. Technophiles will live in houses wherein every single wall is a massive HD video screen pointing inward. Most of the time, these walls will display tasteful furnishings, portraiture, a window to a sylvan scene of the outdoors. Deer, long extinct in real life, will frolick on the walls. Also, with a few choice commands (see below), the walls can display anything from classic movies (they will still be watching The Marx Brothers in 2222), to psychedelia, to IMAX-type motion films that will make you feel like the whole room is careening through a roller coaster. How relaxing!

Date and time display will also be an option, but strangely enough, setting the time will be a process still out of reach of the normal person.

Thought Commands. Biotech will reach a level that enables humans to implant microchips within their brains. These chips will be a hybrid of biology and technology, and will enable the humans of THE FUTURE to control their environment merely by thinking. You’ll think "Sound up" and sure enough, the music will get a little louder. You’ll think "Shut up" and the music will turn off. You’ll think about that cute cyborg you met over at the oxygen bar and all the lights will burn out.

Megaspeakers. Companies like EAW, Tannoy and JBL will get into a sort of war over who can make the largest speakers. Concerts will stop featuring flying arrays and instead just have single, monolithic loudspeakers that deafen everyone in the world. People will live inside these speakers and study sign language.

Microspeakers. Manufacturers will also see how tiny they can make noise-making devices. In THE FUTURE, you’ll be able to fill the Astrodome with sound using one speaker the size of a Meyer lemon. Strangely enough, the speaker will also be the color of a Meyer lemon, and will be made by Meyer Sound. And if you squeeze it, you’ll get lemon juice! I’m telling you, THE FUTURE is going to be one hella bizarre place!

Video Resolution. Video dudes will sit around laughing about UXGA. A pixel resolution of 1600 x 1200 will look to the folks of THE FUTURE as blocky as the Atari 2600 video games of the late 70’s look to us today. In their world, pixels will be so tiny that they will have invented new numbers to describe how many exist in the visual field of a standard consumer viewscreen. As in Blade Runner, you’ll be able to zoom in on the tiniest details and look at microbes within the nostril of your favorite television star. And many people will do that, as many people in THE FUTURE will be sick puppies.

Smell-o-vision. That’s right. It will come back—with a vengeance. The successful reintroduction of smell-o-vision will necessitate new lines of "loud-reekers," "sub-whiffers," and "ampli-huffers." Dolby will be first to market surround-smell systems.

Yes, the future is a pretty wild time. And your descendents will read all about the latest advances in the cyberpages of S,S&VC: Sound, Smell & Video Contractor.

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