Microsoft has just released (and KZero has compiled) a series of videos that imagines a largely visual, computer augmented version of reality as the future of work (See below for the "montage" video from the series). This vision is an outgrowth of another concept, ubiquitous computing, that has been around for some time now.
Critical to the implementation of this vision are a few key technologies. 4G wireless is the most obvious one, in my mind. Without high speed wireless data pipes, none of this visual, interactive stuff gets off the ground. Don't get me wrong, its coming (WiMax and LTE look to be the most obvious candidates for bringing it to us), but it won't be everywhere overnight and it won't be cheap at first.
Another critical technology is batteries. Battery power improvements have not been able to keep up with improvements in processing power. Even if the batteries have the power, they also have to be light so they can work in the mobile devices in these videos.
The display technology is well on its way already. The clunky head-mounted display in the future of manufacturing video in this series are likely to soon be replaced by something like the Vuzix Wrap 920AV (coming out in the fall).
Video: Future Vision MontageNone of this technology is that far off, either. Likewise, the intelligence challenges inherent in even one of these technological changes are obviously immense. I have started to ask myself -- almost daily -- "What am I doing to prepare my students for this type of environment?"
(Side Note: I have been playing around with the new Wikipedia feature that allows you to create a "book" out of select Wikipedia articles. To demonstrate this capability, I have taken all of the Wikipedia articles referenced in this post and compiled them into a single "supplement" to this post. You can download this supplement from Wikipedia or directly in PDF format. You can even get the supplement printed, bound and sent to you. The function can work with any MediaWiki product. Very, very cool!)