Vint Cerf predicts the future of mobile

Matt Bowman · January 7, 2010 · Short URL:

The Father of the Internet gives three prognostications for how mobile will evolve in the 5 years

 Thursday night at a gathering of the Churchill Club in Menlo Park, CA, Vint Cerf, widely known as Father of the Internet, gave his predictions for how his baby will evolve with the growth of mobile devices in the next five years. Cerf offered three specific thoughts on the future of mobile. The first two are fairly obvious, but the last is quality geek-out material. The following are my paraphrasing of his predictions.

1. Your mobile will become your remote.
You can easily predict that more and more appliances of all kinds—refrigerators, office equipment, etc, will be part o the Internet. That’s significant to mobile because once you connect all these things, the mobile is the remote controller for all these things, or it becomes the way to reach an intermediary that makes those decisions for you. You get rid of all the remote controls, and you might get some help from a third party.

2. There will be Internet capability in autos, and mobile will help us get there.
A car that doesn’t yet have Internet capability, when you get into our car with your mobile, you become the router. Have you ever been in a traffic jam and you didn’t know where it ends, but you know that everyone whizzing by on the other side knows? That information should be coming to you, and it will.

3. Interplanetary-grade connectivity
The current android operating system has a lot of experiments. For NASA, I’m trying to see if we can put the interplanetary protocols on top of Android Operating System, not because I want you to be able to call Mars, but because they’re more robust than what we currently have. What I’m anticipating is that if this works in the civilian mobile environment, we might see that suite of protocols in addition to the other ones we’re currently using today. And if that’s true, then you’d be able to have interactions that ordinarily wouldn’t work very well because communication breaks if connectivity breaks, but the DTN protocols are more robust in that regard.

Also, you may wonder, why are we creating an interplanetary network? Some people think. “oh, you’re building this interplanetary network in hopes that somebody may come.” That’s not what we’re planning. All of our interplanetary work involves point-to-point radio links to communicate the spacecraft back to earth. There’s something called the deep space network which the jet propulsion laboratory runs which has three big 70-meter antennas that are stationed about 120 degrees apart on the earth, Madrid, Spain, Canberra, Australia and Goldstone, California so no matter how the earth rotates, those big antennas can see out into the solar system. But most of the applications have been point-to-point radio links. Well, that’s a very plain kind of network. Maybe like a radio relay, and that’s about it. If we had richer protocols for these systems, we could build much more complex missions that involved multiple spacecraft, maybe multiple orbiters. […]

My colleagues are designing these protocols to be used by all of the space-faring nations. The interplanetary network is an open source, open system; anyone can use it. And if they start to using these protocols as standards, then anyone’s spacecraft will be able to communicate with anyone else’s spacecraft. When you complete the primary mission, the spacecraft often survive well beyond that, so they can be repurposed as part of a communication system. […] What I’m anticipating is that as we launch new missions, the previous missions’ assets will become part of an interplanetary backbone. I’m guessing that over the coarse of the next several decades we will actually grow an interplanetary system. That’ll be wonderful and useful overtime for both human and robotic exploration.

[…] The terrestrial applications are the [situations] that don’t work well when you have a lot of interference, and these interplanetary systems anticipate that.


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