Trend forecasts are a notoriously tricky business, lacking – as most of us do – the proverbial crystal ball. And when it comes to looking at the future of IT and tech, it’s tempting to snort at some of the outlandish innovations forecasters confidently predict will be part of our daily lives within a decade.
Yet any lawyer who began their career before Y2K could not have predicted some of the legal tech innovations we now take for granted. From software that can translate and redact thousands of pages of information in an afternoon, to the digital bundles that eliminate frantic last-minute re-shuffling and re-numbering, today’s legal practitioners inhabit a future unimaginable a generation ago.
What of the next fifty years? A fascinating report by digital print specialists and trend forecasters has taken a peek at 2050, and come up with some intriguing tech possibilities:
- Legal document signing. We’re all familiar with e-signatures – but this prediction takes things one step further. Digital ink containing electronic particles programmed with data could allow securely-authenticated signature of legal documents in an instant, from continent to continent.
- Smart dust technology. On the other side of the legal fence, microscopic ‘smart dust’ particles might prove the next step in cyber-crime. Programmed ‘dust’ introduced by air conditioning vents or distributed by corporate spies onto keyboards and printers could intercept and disseminate confidential information. One to keep the Information Commissioner awake into the small hours.
- Pick-and-place 3D printing. Most of us will have seen a 3D printer at work – and watched aghast as over in the States they are already used to make and assemble functioning firearms. The next stage might be the ‘pick and place’ hybrid printer, in which a 3D printer will be combined with a robotic assembly line to add other components. Perhaps a way of bringing a certain theatrical verisimilitude to the examination of evidence?
Other more unlikely predictions include the use of little figurines precisely replicating their owner, to be handed out as business cards (one for the more vain among us, perhaps). Time will tell whether smart dust and digital ink will become concepts as familiar as email and Cloud storage – but in the meantime, firms will continue to look to their professional litigation support partners to provide the latest in legal tech.
At Legastat, we take pride in being ahead-of-the-curve when it comes to legal IT and tech – and on March 25th, we will be at LawTech Futures 2014 at Stand 42, continuing our commitment to providing our clients and partners with innovative, world-class litigation support.
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