I’ve always been a lover of Science Fiction. As a youngster reading books and these days mostly watching movies and the occasional TV series, it’s always been fascinating to me how creative people can be when offering their vision of the future. Now I’ve got over half a century under my belt, I sometimes like to reflect on how right some authors and film directors have been with their predictions on what life would be like 10 to 50 years on from when they created their masterpiece. For me, technology and the way it’s portrayed can contribute significantly to the “realism” of those visions. Sometimes it manages to combine futuristic as well as realistic thinking to be almost a blueprint for the way tech is advancing – say the optical storage, computers, vehicles and use of biometrics in Minority Report (but not the “Pre-Cog” stuff, please) or even the flip open communicators used by Captain Kirk and his crew on their five-year mission (check out this video on How William Shatner Changed the World – with Martin Cooper, mobile phone inventor).
Just before the close of the London Olympics 2012, I had a chance to revisit Cisco House. Established by Cisco and partners including Schneider Electric, Cisco House provided executives with a realistic view of how technology can be put to use to solve current and future business and social challenges. Unlike the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, with its countless rows of blinking lights, Cisco House showed how technology can “naturally” and unobtrusively fit in with our way of life and thinking. Technology is the perfect partner for smart thinking. In fact, I think Cisco House really succeeded because it purposely avoided presenting room after room stuffed full of the technical products manufactured by the participating brands.
Don’t get me wrong, technology was present in Cisco House in spades, but it was in the background, not in your face. Fully integrated into the overall system and generally invisible until needed, Cisco House showed us the value of different companies bringing together hardware and software systems under unified and intuitive user interfaces. So that whether you are an IT manager or a CEO, you could drill down to the precise information you need to not only view system performance, but also control it. From energy management to complete IT control, Cisco House provided a powerful demonstration of integrating technology to help you get the job done.
Cisco House visitors got to experience how technology can be deployed beneficially in residential, industrial and office locations in a connected and sustainable fashion, without necessarily being conscious of that technology. It obviated the need for endless conversations about cabling, routers, power supply and protection and so-on. It didn’t create a conversation about technology so much as a conversation about problem-solving. And it presented a credible group of market leading enterprises as having the will to work together to create Smart Cities. Better still, that technology is available today so the future of better system performance is available immediately to those who want to begin their journey to the future now.
Cisco House helps us remember that it’s humans beings that develop the vision of the future as well as what technology will be able to do. Together with its partners, Cisco is trying hard to inspire us all to think about what we want from tomorrow’s technology, whether it be better efficiency, less waste, the reduction of energy poverty, and more. What Cisco House engenders is an expectation that industry leading companies like Cisco and Schneider Electric could and should be working collaboratively to help deliver technology that promises a brighter future which is not science fiction. Finally, for all you Star Trek fans out there, I thought you might find it interesting to see a list of Star Trek inventions that have rolled-out in real life.