Sunday, October 18, 2009

Virtual Travel is Next

Lately I've been thinking about the travel industry and where new disruptive innovation will come from in this field - over the next five to ten years. Recent developments such as the electrification of automobiles is important but far from revolutionary. We haven't really seen a true change in the way humans travel across the globe since the proliferation and commercialization of air travel.

So what's next? What will shake the way we directly get from one place to another? It probably won't be a new car, a faster train, or a better airplane. It might stem from our ability to communicate in real time via the Internet - through the form of video conferences. But that feels rather cold and still far from equalling the communicational and emotional fulfillment seen in live face-to-face contact.

Teleportation always comes up as an extreme next step - but the best we've done so far is move some photons around. So I believe that the real future of travel (or lack thereof) will be somewhere in between the remoteness of current Internet-based communication and the closeness that teleportation will enable. It will come from the proliferation and continuing evolution of virtual reality and its ever-expanding supporting infrastructure.

Soon we will be able to mimic the senses of sight, sound, and in part - touch. This will be done seamlessly, in real time, and across the whole world. Most importantly - in terms of global adoption - virtual reality will no longer be perceived as a geeky niche-technology by large corporations - the same corporations which are the source of much of the world's travel troops.
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