Simplicity and reliability are needed to conquer the next generation of home connectivity but these are not attributes for which the networking industry is known, admitted Eric Benhamou, chairman and chief executive of 3Com.
In his keynote speech to a packed house during this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Benhamou said the future of networking will be "pervasive computing".
He said: "In a couple of years 3Com alone will be dealing in billions and billions of connections as the next connectivity frontier opens up the home. Our goal is to make consumer electronics more connected, smarter and personal."
He continued: "Simplicity must constrain functionality, however, and general purpose devices can suffer from the burden of complexity, as we know from the PC."
Benhamou highlighted the importance of not losing sight of the impact a connected society will have on our minds, communities and society. "In a few days a connected person will be exposed to more information than their grandparents in a lifetime," he explained. "Our minds will have to learn to perform a different function. We will have to see the forest and not drown in trees and blades of grass."
But better connections may not improve interpersonal relations, he warned. "Technology can only enhance the relationships that already exist," he said, stressing the importance of shaping the skills of young children to deal with the digital age.
Benhamou is in little doubt, however, that a connected world should lead to a better world. "If it is used in balance it will improve the quality of life and being," he said in a speech that placed a heavier emphasis on sociology than technology.
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