The communications explosion is on the scale of the rail, automobile or telephone revolution. Very soon you’ll be able to record your entire life electronically—anything a microphone or a camera can sense you’ll be able to store. In particular, the number of images a person captures in a lifetime is sure to rise dramatically. The thousand images a year I take of my children on a digital camera are all precious to me. In a generation's time, my children's children will have total image documentation of their entire lives—a visual diary of tremendous personal value.
In Cambridge, we’re already working on millimeter-square (平方毫米) computing and sensing devices that can be linked to the Internet through the radio network. This sort of connectivity will expand dramatically as tiny communications devices become dirt-cheap and multiply. Just imagine what the paint on the wall could do if it had this sort of communications dust in it: change color, play music, show movies or even speak to you.
Falling costs raise other possibilities too. Because launching space vehicles is about to become very much cheaper, the number of satellites is likely to go up greatly. There’s lots of space up there so we could have millions of them. And if you have millions of low-orbit satellites you can establish a global communications network that completely does away with towers and poles.
Speech is so flexible that I expect voice communication to become almost free eventually: you’ll pay just a monthly fixed charge and be able to make as many calls as you want. By then people will also have fixed links with business contacts, friends and relatives. One day I anticipate being able to keep in touch with my family in Poland on an optical-fiber audio-video link; we’ll be able to sit down “together”