As the Internet grows day by day (by trillions of addresses) even more uses are made of it. Seriously, that's not a typo.
Here we look at two futuristic applications that are with us today; an Interplanetary Internet (known as InterPlaNet) and robots that are controlled by our own thoughts.
1. The Interplanetary Internet
No, it is not science fiction. There really is an interplanetary internet, and its primary node is inside the International Space Station. In fact it has been operational since 2009, but it is now expected to take on an entirely new role as rumors emerge that NASA is working on new plans to develop a hovering moon base.
This base (called EML-2) would be situated 60,000 kilometres away from the dark side of the moon at what is called a Lagrange Point. There are a number of such points close to the earth’s orbit where all the gravitational pulls even out, creating gravity neutral regions where space craft can effectively be parked without the need of any fuel to keep them there.
Astronauts aboard EML-2 would be able to control robotic vehicles on the surface of the moon in real time rather than the three second delay when controlling them from earth. The concept has now been tested by controlling a prototype moon rover on earth via the interplanetary internet.
2. Your mind in a machine
VGo is a robot. It attends school and goes from lesson to lesson using a camera. It is surrogate of a young boy who, because of allergies, cannot attend school himself. He controls the robot over the internet and takes part in school lessons and communicates with his friends through it. He is not unique. Such virtual travellers are becoming common place; they save lives in operating theatres and take them in wars; they even carry out nine to five jobs.
Currently they are controlled by mice and keyboards, but the next generation will be controlled by thought alone. As well as sight and sound they will send back to the user senses of touch and smell. Effectively we will be able to become completely immersed in an alternative location; effectively we will be the mind in a remote robotic body.
You can buy basic ones now for under £10,000. To control it remotely over the internet you just need access to a computer and web camera and people are using them for such purposes as touring museums and visiting family. They are being trialled in hospitals for remotely checking on patients.
A prototype has been built that is controlled remotely over the internet by a person wearing a body suit and controlling one just by thought has been demonstrated using a MRI brain scanner.
As broadband continues to develop, ever more uses will be made of it that extend far further than downloading movies and social networking. Perhaps future broadband deals will include the option to add a robot that we can send off to work while we put our feet up.