In the near future, people will use much more sophisticated devices than we have now, and will use them in remarkably different ways. The handheld devices shown above in the header images will not replace books or teachers, but will add something impossible with current technology.
The goals to be satisfied with coming technology can be expressed in terms of bandwidth, or discussed in terms of the amount of information flow. A vast amount of inf0rmation flows over the Internet and telecommunications media, but from the point of view of a single individual, much of this information is noise. We can talk about the signal to noise ratio, which defines how much of what a person receives is actually the desired signal, and how much is just noise. The key point is that other people’s signal can be your noise. It can be incredibly difficult to find what you are looking for on the World Wide Web. That’s even true if you are searching through a relatively organized collection of data, such as the Wikipedia. You may have to read or at least scan a great deal of text to find out what you are looking for. What you eventually find is the signal embedded in the noise.
In the online novel Social Tech High, the small handheld device which looks like a smartphone is much more. It includes a lot of sophisticated hardware for speech and facial recognition. An except from that book will be included on this site to describe the device and its uses.
What is shown in the header is something I call conversational hardware. It includes not just voice interaction like Apple’s Siri, but has social technology features as well, including visual input hardware at least as sophisticated as a PC’s graphics card. This is used along with speech recognition and facial expression monitoring to detect honesty in people that a person might wish to add to his or her social environment. In an educational setting, this hardware/software mix can be used to tell whether students understand or are just guessing. That will be used by teaching apps with a difference — they will also use advanced social technology to connect each person to exactly the right educational experience. In essence it will be a recommender system for students.