Finding the right attire for men shouldn’t be all that difficult, right? Wrong. I detest the ritual of clothes shopping. My patience lasts not more than three stores, all in the same mall preferably. The process seems more like finding a needle in a haystack than cherry picking. There ought to be a better way.
My work at a 3D Printing company offers me a ringside view of new-age innovations that are changing the world. If there is one phrase that I can use to describe the fast approaching future, it would be ‘smudged lines’ — the blurring of rigid technological frameworks that we have come to accept as gospel truth. Allow me to explain.
The World of Atoms
The foundations of the old era, if I may call it so, rest on two distinct yet important pillars. The first is the World of Atoms — the physical, tangible and real matter that we can touch and manipulate. And thanks to the Industrial Revolutions — assembly lines, mass manufacturing and homogenous production have become the hallmark of the World of Atoms.
The World of Bits
The other pillar is the World of Bits — digital, binary, software. The internet has percolated into every sphere of our daily lives, a true embodiment of ‘democratised information’. The defining feature of the World of Bits is its adaptability — software can be customised to the needs of the user at little or no added cost. Case in point: your FB feed is an accurate extension of your beliefs, interests and social choices, just like everyone else’s feed.
The Two Worlds Colliding
In the recent years, opportunities in the World of Bits have far outweighed those in the World of Atoms, leading to impermeable silos between hardware and software companies that look at each other with disregard. Every other college kid wants to create the next Facebook or Flipkart, but we hardly hear of another Apple in the making.
One thing is for sure: unless we break the silos, India will struggle to keep up with the other nations when it comes to innovation and progress — the World of Atoms and the World of Bits are colliding. At the heart of this collision is a chance to reimagine the world and how we live in it. Technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing and Robotics are no longer figments of a sci-fi author’s imagination. These tools are real, and they are available now.
Virtual is the New Reality
Flash forward a couple of years into the future, to a happier me that loves shopping. I don my VR headgear and stroll through a personalised mall that showcases handpicked clothing, accessories and gadgets that an AI system predicts I will love.
I can request a trial for something I like and I instantly see myself, or rather my avatar, in the new look.
This avatar is a precise 3D replica of me that was created using a portable 3D scanner that measures even the minutest differences between my left foot and right foot.
I like what I see, but would prefer it in a slightly sober colour. No problem! The new colour is instantly rendered in photorealistic quality. I end up buying more than I would like to admit to, but who’s complaining when all of it is custom made and delivered within three days?
I have come to handle the seamless jumps between the Worlds of Bits and Atoms almost naturally, and life seems impossible to imagine before these were invented. As an entrepreneur, it is imperative to realize that the new world is one without borders or definitions.
Rudyard Kipling would have to rephrase his Ballad for 2017:
“Oh, East is East and West is West, the twain are bound to meet!”