Greg HarperImagine shooting video with a pair of glasses, refocusing a photo after shooting it or adding aerial video coverage to your news story to show the effects of pollution or drought.

This describes just some of the technology we will see in the next few years, said Greg Harper, chief executive officer of Harpervision, during the recent RJI Tech Showcase.

Harpervision is a technology, video, audio and rich media consulting business. Harper helps solve business problems for companies of all sizes using technology, which requires him to stay up to date on all the trends.

He makes a list of trends he terms his “digital dozen,” that will impact every aspect of life, including news production, he said. As technology changes, the list evolves. Harper demonstrated several devices to a crowd during a recent technology showcase at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Many of the devices he demonstrated are not yet in the marketplace, and some have application in journalism.

Here are a few of his predicted trends for the next five-years:

1. App Internet: App Internet is a new way of using the Internet, said Harper. Currently, each mobile application offers one individual experience but that is about to change. He presented a scenario where a traveler never needs separate apps to book a flight, find a gate, call a cab, check into a hotel, or adjust room temperature anymore. He believes an app will be developed to take care of all these chores. The technologies involved in that scenario are already available, but have not been bundled together yet, he says.

2. Wearable technology: The future of wearable technology is just beginning with heads up displays such as Google Glass, which allows you to take pictures, shoot video, and engage in video chats from these headset devices.

Bluetooth-enabled gloveHarper also demonstrated Pebble Watches that can connect you to your phone via Bluetooth. Other watches come with touch screens that allow you to run applications. He demonstrated a Bluetooth-enabled glove that becomes a phone when you extend the thumb and pinky fingers.

“Body worn technology is the theme here,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot more of it in a lot of different ways.”

3. Near-field communication (NFC): Recently made cell phones and other similar mobile devices (with the exception of Apple’s iPhone) have near-field communication capabilities. The technology allows a user to tap NFC-enabled devices together to establish communication between the devices.

According to Harper, these devices are far more powerful with more processing speed than a laptop computer.

For example, a smart phone can be tapped up against a special charge mat on a desk and automatically connect to a computer screen and keyboard. No wires will be used.

4. Human Machine Interface (HMI): Technologists struggle to figure out how to interface with electronics, said Harper. However, that’s changing.

“There will be a lot of new ways to communicate with equipment and a lot of new ways to interface with it,” he said.

He demonstrated a pen that records your voice, connects to the Internet and uploads notes to software programs such as Evernote. Harper believes much of technology is too hard to use right now. Designers need to spend more time to make the devices simple and easy to use, he said. For example, the crew of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek just talks to the computer. No keyboard mouse or multi-touch screen is needed. Making the interface to technology simple and intuitive is a hard thing to do right but we’re beginning to see results, said Harper.

5. Digital imaging: Several advances are coming for photography tools. The quality of digital pictures continues to improve.

Harper demonstrated:

Drones in journalism6. Robotics: Robotics is changing many aspects of life, including journalism.

Harper showed the audience a low-cost quadcopter equipped with GPS altimeter, compass and gyroscope. Quadcopters, with a video camera attached, are considered unmanned aerial vehicle (drones). Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t permit commercial use of drones, UAV’s could be future tools for journalists.

Users can determine what direction the UAV is heading and how high the unit is flying because of available technology. Students and faculty at The Missouri School of Journalism are researching the use of drones in journalism and have been using them to show the impact of drought and pollution. Learn more here.

To learn more about Greg’s Digital Dozen, watch a video of his presentation here.

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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