Friday, May 23, 2008

Cell Phones of the Future

The future of cell phones isn't nearly as boring as it sounds. While the underlying technology will change, the paradigm shift of nearly universal portable personal communications is here to stay. Soon (if not already) you can and will expect to be able to communicate with anyone else, effectively instantly, wherever you both are. This same technology can (and does or soon will) give you equivalent access to the Internet and the plethora of information available there, plus the equivalent of GPS navigation and location dependent searching.

Some of us already have all of the above; this is not news. So what are the logical extrapolations of the technologies?

My story Technesia is set in the near future when our phones are embedded into our glasses, sunglasses, or headsets. All phones have cameras, plus retinal projectors which can superimpose images, icons, even menus and information tags over the scene our unaided vision would perceive. Note that retinal projectors based upon tiny laser projectors are nearly available now--they have been prototyped. You can buy a bluetooth headset built into a glasses frame today. You can also buy a camera built into your glasses.

In Technesia, we all carry a wallet-sized PC (just like my PDA but much faster) which does everything my laptop does, plus it uses the headset as an I/O device. Naturally, as near-future science fiction, it has excellent voice and image recognition. One of the things the combination provides is familiar to everyone who watches NASCAR on TV: identification tags that track the objects you see.

For example, you're walking down the street. As an acquaintance approaches, your wallet recognizes him/her, and displays an information box over his/her head giving a name and perhaps some personal info such as the last date you saw them, a reminder of a birthday or to ask the status of a family member. The key thing is that these tags could be displayed automatically as you walk around the block, a party, or a business meeting, providing you with all of the reminders you'd need to maintain a facade of remembering their name, etc.. And truly, in the local bar, once you've been there, everybody knows your name.

Personally, I'm terrible with names (like many others, I remember names and faces--I just can't put them together). I could really use this capability. And how about a GPS navigation facility where an arrow shows the upcoming street with a box saying "Turn left here"? Or while you're searching for a place to eat lunch, tags appear above each restaurant within sight giving a name, type of cuisine, and service hours. Or perhaps just your favorite restaurants.

Wouldn't most of us appreciate status displays around the periphery of our vision? The date and time, appointment reminders, current task support such as shopping lists at the grocery or maps and driving directions?

Other stories of mine explore other possible cell phone extrapolations. For example, in Party Line our phones have the capability of sharing a call with a bunch of friends. A group of people could be on a shopping trip together, and all share their conversation just like they were in a room together. This would also work well for a golf outing of six or eight friends, for example. This technology could be implemented by our cellular providers today. In my story, the cell phones also have cameras and retinal projectors so that anyone can see what someone else wishes them to: for example, a blouse on sale or a potential kids toy.

Party Line also extrapolates one other thing: our phones record everything we see and hear (unless instructed otherwise). There are serious implications for privacy and for contract law. If that car dealer promised one thing and delivered another, you'd have proof. If you couldn't remember what your spouse said to get at the store, you could replay it. Note that the quantity of non-volatile memory needed to store everything you have ever heard or said is available today in a package the size of a large book. Tomorrow, it will fit in your wallet.

2 comments:

Kristin said...
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My Miracle Baby said...

Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.

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