Till now we can transfer data, voice, video over the internet. I think within next 30 years we will be able to transfer human beings over the internet. Unbelievable! Let me describe you how.
I hope you agree that next generation belongs to touch screen devices. As of now touch screens are one way touch. You can touch a screen and the computer processes the signals of your touch. In return computer can give you back video or audio displays. But it does not give you back any sense of touch.
Nowadays researchers are working on touch screens that can give you back a feeling of touch. Eg. If you touch the image of a shirt in your device, it will feel like cloth. If you touch the image of water in a lake it will give you a feel of touching water. See the articles on IEEE and Technology Review sites.
This will be a great breakthrough for the internet. Out of our five senses-Visions (Eye), Hear (Ear), Smell (Nose), Taste ( Mouth), Skin(Touch), the internet can transfer data for only two senses – Eye & Ear. Though people are trying hard to bring Smell and Taste transfer through the internet, yet it appears that it will take while for people to consume something transferred through internet by their nose and mouth…:-)
The third sense whose data will be transferred successfully through the internet would be touch (skin). Once the feeling of touch is incorporated in the touch screen device, it will bring a new revolution.
Just think that you will be able to touch the shirt that you want to buy online. You will be able to touch almost any real life thing through the touch screen device. Most of the brick and mortar stores will see the real competition then. The feeling of touch would not be limited to non-living things. It would extend to living things like us humans too.
You would be able to see the image of a person and feel the touch of that person. Wait a second, why would we see the image? At this point we would see the 3D image person. So it would be same as sitting in front of that person and you have the option of touching that person.
To cut the long story short, the way we can now see 3D image from a 2D display, the touch of a person will also be projected in a 3d way. I mean if you shake hands with a person, the software would not only show you the 3D hand, but also the touch screen will give you a feeling of 3D handshake touch.
I think if we survive 2012 and the more doomsday prophecies, it would be possible for most of us to see the transmission of human beings over the internet in next 20-30 years.
I just wish that visionaries like-Steve Jobs live to see such a digital lifestyle in future.