Any media on any surface: First, much better WiFi

According to The Economist, a development at the US Federal Communications Commission is taking us a little closer to ubiquitous media:

After four years of deliberations—and staunch opposition from television broadcasters, makers and users of wireless microphones, and mobile-phone companies—the federal regulators voted unanimously on November 4th to allow a new generation of wireless gizmos to access the internet using the empty airwaves (“white spaces”) between television’s channels 2 to 51.

The FCC could have auctioned off those frequencies—it raised $19.6 billion in March 2007 by auctioning blocks of frequencies above 700 megahertz that will be vacated when television switches from analog to digital broadcasting—but to its credit it opted to make them freely available.

The special features of these wavelengths of radio spectrum is that they can get to the hard-to-reach places that wi-fi signals have had difficulty getting to before. They can carry more data over longer distances without being affected by metal in walls and the vagaries of the weather.

This is a step towards the availability of any media on any surface. I imagine that within 10 years the idea of a specific device for showing 2D (and stereoscopic 2D) imagery will seem quaint. We will probably expect most permanent surfaces to be linked to a worldwide network and be able to display whatever we feel like calling up at any time.

That means nearby picture frames, blinds, wallpaper, painted areas, tables, plates, floor coverings, ceilings and buildings. This would progress to flexible digital paper, carpets, clothing, curtains and fabrics …eventually ending up as digital tattoos!

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