I'm a huge advocate of making lists for productivity. Because of that, and my enthusiastic nature in technology, I figured I'd drop some knowledge of what I see as hugely effective and accessible hardware to get to know for doing interactive technology today. This is my top list of wireless interactive technology in order of personal interest.
Holographic imaging is slowly coming into play. Not on the commercial level but in a way where many of the media houses and people in the field are prepping for it. Right now, it is only doable in some old school ways (pepper’s ghost pseudo-holograms) or in the official way in a very small scale but, once it is commercially possible, the abilities it will grant may be endless as media takes a transition from a 2D surface to the ability to be and participate in the 3D realm. You may then element labor for building structures that would take months or 30 people and build it purely digitally using light to exist as if it was a piece of architecture.
4)Infrared for Motion Tracking
Motion tracking infrared sensors are what I use for body tracking for performance and installation. It is most notably used in the Microsoft Kinect and in autofocus camera systems and is very easy to get to know and play with if you have the proper program. The growing interest in performance using the motion tracking has led to a whole field of programmers and creators that specialize in programming things that analyze and react to how the body moves. Being in Berlin, I recently participated in a meetup that brought many people together working in these fields. Dancers, programmers, and neuroscientists all who were wanting to use this for understanding how the human body moves and how it can be expressed through other means. It's amazing what you can do with something you can purchase at the video game store for $25. The biggest flaw though is the camera to its placement and field of view. The imaging space can be blocked or confused very easily. I've heard the same complaint from researchers using $50,000 gear. The only real alternative without this flaw seems to be #1 in this list.
Eye tracking is a new field experimented with in marketing but seldom used commercially for user design. It seems most attention goes towards the research done for marketing and advertising since the tracking of the eye is also the tracking on the user's attention. The usability of this is staggering for research but is also limited to where there is a camera to catch the eye and proper calibration for the parallax of the head in space. But once calibrated, it is highly effective to use with your computer and also extremely easy to learn to use with the only learning curve being knowing how not to look where you don't consciously want to(since our attention is constantly jetting). This also aided in the retention of concentration, a skill as coveted today as memory.
Like the previous, brain monitoring is also something emerging relatively quickly that also has an appeal for those training their concentration. That is most of the commercial selling points as of now you can purchase an EEG headset(brain monitoring device) for the price of a gaming system, but it's practicality has not fully formed for commercial use in interactive design because the technology is advancing before the research. To monitor the brain is easy now but to link activity to certain thoughts and actions is very difficult because, unlike a muscle, a thought exists in the mind. There are also many different paradigms of human thought evolving with our technology that almost make it so you must know a bit about neuroscience to know how different brain waves affect us. It becomes increasingly difficult to create complex programs using the hardware for the general consumer because everyone's brains work differently, but the crowd sourcing ability of the community research is growing and with that people are becoming more familiar with them and how they work. Of course, being able to interact with the environment using purely your thoughts would be the end goal but the difficulty in use is often knowing how your own thoughts work which, since thoughts being intangible and fluid things, becomes a daunting task of making them into something quantifiable.
I listed this last one with a bias for motion tracking but also for the sake of its original use was to get us into space. Like a compass, the accelerometer and gyroscope combination are used to determine acceleration and direction of acceleration which can be used to program gesture controls and motion tracking in any environment. It is something often put in our devices(phone,game controller,fitbit,etc,) to monitor whether the device is turned in a certain direction. The original of the first one on the space shuttle in 1981 was as big as a small car but now they exist as chips smaller than a penny and cheaper than a quarter.
This device's application for me is something that can allow anything to be interactive and coordinated in 3-D space(wirelessly with the right gear). With that information you can trigger anything to do anything when it moves a certain way, goes to a certain spot, stops moving and more if you simply attach chip that's smaller than a penny to it. This to me has the most practical application today without needing any research complex research. It simply needs to be applied and experimented with and can instantly turn life into a dynamic wonderland of technology.
I've also considered (since the only way to time travel currently is to go fast) how this may be something for use in knowing how much time has gone by for the average future space explorer/time traveler. But really, that's just something fun to consider a possibly application.