Technology for the armchair traveller

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

-Oscar Wilde

The above quote rings true for me, every time I think about how much of our present has been dictated not purely by advancements in technology, but also by the dreams of those who could paint the future and make it appear so plausible that their dreams did eventually come true. If we were to go back in time, say just 30 years ago, and show some people, videos on how drastically our current lives have changed with the advent of the Internet and the phone, they would laugh us right back into the future. Or into oblivion. For instance, take a look at these links here: Link 1 Link 2

I have always been fond of technology and its power to change the status quo. And for a long, long time, I was an armchair traveler, reading the adventures of people in far-away lands as a kid, watching re-runs of Lonely Planet on television and reading up inspiring tales of  people who quit everything to go see the world.

I still am, somewhat of an armchair traveler, waiting for things to fall into place to take that next trip.

But technology might have the power to change travel in a few years time. How exactly, you ask ? I don’t have the right answers, neither is it a very convincing one at the moment. But it does seem plausible in the future. There are a few main factors involved:

Virtual Reality and the Internet

I am talking about the fad that most of us grew up with, in the 90s. Or specifically, about Google Glass and more specifically, something like the Oculus Rift. To elaborate, a lot of content shared through blogs, books and e-books as well photography is passive and is quite often, neither real-time nor as compulsively engaging as say, a video. With devices like the Google Glass and real-time videos through ubiquitous high-speed broadband, bloggers can broadcast their feelings and scenic panoramas without moving a muscle – it becomes a live feed that can keep viewers and blog followers hooked. Really something, eh ?

Enjoy that fall. Or maybe even treat your mother to a video as her grandson jumps out of an airplane.

There’s more.

With Google Street View exploring mapping parts of our planet (and even going below the ocean), there might be a time when, by using Google, you could tap into an extensive set of imagery that gives you a feel of a far-away place right on your computer screens. I am not sure if some satellites can already provide a live feed to consumers, but they can probably not give you a live feed from the ground or below the oceans – something that Google can really tap into.

Now, juxtapose this ability to remotely view our planet, or at least parts of it, with a virtual reality display like the Oculus Rift. An experience so immersive, that you can practically turn around in any direction you want and walk in any direction you want, all without leaving your chair. And you are able to tap into Google’s views (live feeds if possible) so that you are able to enjoy that glorious sunset in the African savannahs, that calm early morning walk in the streets of Kyoto or even be able to enjoy the view from the hood of a Formula 1 car as it burns down your favorite race track in real time.

Your favorite F1 team’s car screams and burns down the circuit and you have all the time to enjoy and view the action. Unlike the poor drive.

Where is the fun in that, some of you will ask. Quite true. Travel is as much about meeting other people, getting to know cultures entirely different from yours, eating and drinking food that your taste buds will thank you for. All these will continue to be a reason to get out there and do some real traveling. But think also about the millions who, for one reason or the other, cannot travel as much as you can. Won’t it be a joy for them to accompany you on your adventures across this beautiful planet of ours ?

A bit too rose tinted as well, you say ? Possibly. For all the advancements in technology, we’ve still not been able to create the senses of smell and touch digitally. So right now, you can’t smell the beach, or be able to experience the white sand underneath your feet. But, who knows ? Someday, somebody’s imagination and hard work just might lead you there. I’ll leave you with a quote by the one and only Carl Sagan:

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”