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Personal Computing 2015: A New Window to a World of Information

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About five years ago, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube did not exist. Today, there are 400 million Facebook users, 50 million "tweets" per day, and 1 billion YouTube videos served up every day. These are just the most visible examples of a revolution in personal computing that spans from social media to wireless connectivity, a new generation of devices and the flexible, scalable IT infrastructure that enables all of it. As the director of HP Labs, it has been my privilege to work alongside some of the brightest thinkers in the technology industry to help lead this revolution. Now, we are working on the next five years, building on the incredible pace of innovation to shape personal computing in 2015.

Looking ahead, our experience with technology will become increasingly intuitive, personalized and sustainable, from the way we interact with devices, to the way we publish ideas, to the way we access software and apps through the cloud. Perhaps more important, these improvements will help us work toward an equitable and efficient society by making technology -- and the information it delivers -- more available to more people than ever before.

There's a lot of buzz today about new devices, smartphones, slates, netbooks, etc. We will continue to see a proliferation of devices tailored for specific purposes. However, each of these devices will act as a "window to a world of information," through which producers of information and entertainment can deliver content in a seamless and collaborative way. In a world where digital content doubles every 18 months, such "windows" will become the chart and compass of our data-centric society. New business models will flourish. For example, digital books could be sold on a per-view basis, the value of which could fluctuate based on its popularity. Technologists around the world are working to create the window to information that will be the most compelling for both producers and consumers.

One thing these devices will have in common will be a new, dramatically more efficient way of displaying content. Made of plastic, these flexible displays will be low power, low cost, show vibrant colors and come in all shapes and sizes. Imagine a 5" x 8" "information surface" that you can roll up and put in your pocket, or one that's 16' x 9' that you unfold and tack to a wall. These types of information surfaces could also be tailored for emerging markets, where high-end, energy-intensive devices are irrelevant.

Over the past few years, there has been a great deal of innovation in how we interact with technology. Touch-screen interfaces are state-of-the-art today, but in the next five years, these will evolve to respond to gesture, gaze and even facial expressions. Technology will become more intuitive for everyone and accessible to new populations for whom a keyboard interface is a barrier. For example, of the 1 billion people in India, 450 million use cell phones, but only 50 million use the computer or internet.

When it comes to creating and distributing information, the transformation from analog to digital printing will democratize the publishing industry. Advances in automation, workflow management and new services will sit atop powerful high-speed, high-quality digital presses. Anyone will be able to produce professional-quality content, customize advertising and print on-demand when a publication is ordered. In an industry where 60 percent of magazines are never sold, digital printing eliminates entire pieces of a carbon-heavy supply chain -- no warehouses, no pre-publication costs, no waste.

Finally, in the information explosion, attention is a scarce resource. Amazon has done some great work with its recommendation engine, but it's just one site. (Of those 50 million tweets produced every day, which ones do you care about?) Advances in analytics, including work on personal cloud profiles, will take into account all of your interactions on the Web and help provide the information that is most relevant to you. In the same vein, services that combine social networks with location-awareness to deliver insight on the world around you from the people you care about most. In the near future, search engines will not only understand keywords, but the context of your inquiry.

These are just some of the ways that personal computing will become more intuitive and accessible. At HP, we believe that information will be the most valuable resource in the 21st century, and we are working to innovate at every touchpoint of information to democratize its power across the global community.

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