When asked about the future, technologists paint a picture of bustling cities, where cars are self-driving, clothes are loaded with sensors and our interactions with computers are as natural as they are with friends. It’s a world that might seem more akin to a science fiction – but we’re closer to it than you’d think.
Today, some 100 members of the tech and business media and VIPs gathered at HP’s Palo Alto headquarters to celebrate the 50th anniversary of HP Labs and hear more about the company’s vision for the future – not the future of HP but rather the future of society.
“We’re creating a broad vision, but we anchor it around real questions about the future. The way we frame what we do at HP Labs doesn’t always start with the technology. Where it really starts is with people and how we look at society.”Shane Wall
HP’s CTO and Global Head of HP Labs
Some of those questions, discussed and dissected by a slew of experts from HP Labs, touched on ambient computing, blended reality, evocative technology experiences that were akin to human interactions, 3D printing and the spark that will start the next industrial revolution.
Loosely organized around the “Megatrends,” such as a rapidly aging population and rapid urbanization that will shape our world, HP’s Wall gave attendees a glimpse of the type of technology advancements we’ll see in future generations – and beyond.
Watch the “Reinventing the City” panel with Chandrakant Patel, Chief Engineer, Senior Fellow at HP, Paul Noglows
Executive Director, ForbesLive and Forbes Media, Sid Espinosa, Director, Civic Engagement and Philanthropy,
Microsoft, and Adam Khan, CEO, AKHAN Semiconductor.
The conversation, needless to say, was just about as wide-reaching as it can get when you bring members of HP Labs’ brain trust together – touching on what’s next for 3D printing (color, customization and conductive materials), the next industrial revolution (supply chains that get upended when manufacturers no longer need to ship raw materials and can print parts on demand), and the “secret weapon” to driving innovation at every level of the company (diversity and a culture of inclusion).
“By nature, it’s a messy process,” Wall said, referring to the divergent and sometimes meandering paths that HP Labs’ research often follows. “You have opposite views and opinions, but out of that comes creativity.”
After the panels, attendees got to peek inside the research labs themselves with a tour of the spaces where researchers can design “probes” that can shed light on ideas that might turn into the next indispensable device or technology.
Sometimes, they don’t make it to store shelves, but offer up some kind of truth about how human beings will bring technology into their homes and workplaces – and even their hearts.
Take, for example, a research project by the Immersive Experiences Lab, which put into peoples’ homes diorama-like displays of the houses that they grew up in.
“We are using print media to create products that trigger positive emotional reactions and enhance social connections,” said Mirjana Spasojevic, VP and director of the Immersive Experiences Lab. “We start with people.”
View a replay of the VIP Labs 50th Anniversary Event with HP Chief Executive Dion Weisler here.