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Legal Technology—A Vision of the Future

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This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Legal Technology—A Vision of the Future."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Legal Technology—A Vision of the Future

I’m pleased to report that my third grader’s teacher is very tech savvy. He sends out frequent emails with links to a classroom website that updates parents about our children’s activities. He uploads pictures of the kids, images of projects and sometimes provides links to useful online content.

Last week he emailed parents a link to a fascinating video that his students watched in class: A Day Made of Glass—Made Possible by Corning. You can view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38.

In it, you’ll find Corning’s unique and intriguing vision of the not-too-distant future made possible by their specialty glass interfaces. Using various specialty glass surfaces, users interact with computer programs and data by touching and manipulating large glass interfaces, imbedded in tables, counters, kitchen appliances, or screens on walls. When laid upon the receptive glass surfaces, handheld devices similar to iPhones seamlessly connect with with the glass interface, transferring the phone’s data and allowing the user to interact with it on the larger surface. In other words, Corning’s glass essentially turns the surfaces into large touch screen tablets.

It’s an amazing view of the future, reminiscent of the mind-blowing technology seen in the movie “Minority Report,” where characters interface with holographic touch screen computers.

The timing of the email linking to this video was very apropos for me since I’ll have the opportunity to work with very similar technology later this week during a usability test of an eDiscovery platform at Xerox. Study participants will be compensated by Xerox for their time spent interacting with and testing the software called Smart Document Review Technology. Currently the technology is still in the testing phase, but will be available to the public in the near future.

Xerox describes the technology as follows: “(A) prototype “smart document” review system where users can gather around a large touch-sensitive table top display and sort documents merely by moving their fingers across the screen.  The interface is as familiar as using your iPhone or smartphone touch screen – but more than a 150 times larger, making it easy for several people to work together.”

In other words, I get to interact with a futuristic technology that, nearly a decade ago when “Minority Report” was released, seemed would never be attainable during my lifetime. A video of the technology in action can be viewed here: http://news.xerox.com/pr/xerox/srp-viewclip.aspx?id=122365.

Both Xerox’s Smart Document Review platform and Corning’s vision of the near future using its glass interfaces are prime examples of the massive technological shift that is underway. We now have touch screen tablets and smart phones that respond to voice commands with amazing accuracy. We’re able to connect with people across the globe for free, with just the touch of a button. Soon, large touch screen interfaces will be ubiquitous, offering us instantaneous access to vast amounts of information from virtually anywhere, allowing us to work and communicate no matter where we are.

Technology is already impacting every aspect of our lives and will continue to do so at a record breaking pace. It will be more pervasive and invasive as each year passes. It’s a future that is both exciting, disturbing—and, in my opinion, inescapable.

Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.

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