Luke Hughes is research director of the Accenture Labs in Palo Alto, California. His answer to the big question draws upon work that he and his team have been doing for the last couple years:

Reality Online is the observation that we may in the future go online not to go online but rather to surf physical reality. It will seem as archaic as being excited about 'plugging into the electric grid' would be to our children to get excited about going 'online'. Rather it will be a utility by which we strangely enough get efficiently to "reality"… to our supply chains via RFID, to our forests and pipelines by Smart Dust, to our children and nannies via webcams, to our friends and relatives via camera phones and eventually video phones.

Technologically it's part of a general trend, first we had the Internet (Web), then ubiquitous computing where internet reached out into phyiscal world (our phones, PDAs, cars)… now the reverse is happening. Based on sensors in such devices as well as new sensors (RFID systems, Smart Dust, etc.), we can bring a digital copy of the physical world online that will have two distinctive qualities: more real time, and more detail.

Earlier suggestions:

David Sifry: Cyberspace

Andy Clark: Interactatron

John Seely Brown: The Infomated World

Ross Mayfield: On and Catalink

…plus many others in the Wired article

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,