The annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Southampton: Fibre optics 'to change our lives'

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The Independent Online
PEOPLE WHO want to watch Wimbledon from a seat in the Centre Court may soon be able to do so without leaving their front rooms by popping 'active contact lenses' into their eyes, writes Tom Wilkie.

Such lenses, which spray light directly into the retina, could be a possibility within five years, according to Professor Peter Cochrane of British Telecom's research laboratories. They would replace bulky 'virtual reality' headsets currently in use.

The images projected by the lenses would be real pictures of the tennis action as someone would see it on the spot, not computer-generated images. Instead of being broadcast, they would be sent down fibre-optic cables.

Professor Cochrane said it was possible to transmit so much information along fibre-optic cables that there was now an infinite capacity to communicate. The advent of cheap cable would transform our daily lives, he said.

In future executives would no longer fly the Atlantic to attend business meetings. Instead they would 'teleport' themselves to a meeting.

The teleconference of the future would bear no relation to the inadequate systems available at present. Instead of appearing on small-screen TVs, executives will look through a 'video wall' - a huge flat screen - into their counterpart's room.

Professor David Payne, of the University of Southampton, predicted the rise in communications sent by fibre optics would be so great that over the next decade communications satellites would fall into disuse. Broadcasters and mobile communicators - ships to shore, for example - would become the main users of satellites.