Monday, January 04, 2010

The World of the Fuuuuture!

The other day on Facebook, I posted this:
In the '00s, I bought my last roll of film, my last photo album, my last music CD, my last DVD (okay, I only own 4 DVDs anyway), and (possibly, thanks to my new Kindle) my last hard-copy book. Clearly the greatest advance of the last decade is the opportunity to de-clutter (physically, at least) our lives. In the future, moving will be 40% easier!
I know there have been lots of other innovations -- I just focused on media and my little world -- but it's interesting that if you took a person from 1999 and plopped him into 2009, things probably wouldn't seem all that foreign to him. Cool and intriguing, but very little that would make you feel you've been plopped into an episode of Twilight Zone.

The iPod and iPhone would probably be fairly surprising. I know they have fundamentally changed the way (and time I spend) listening to music and connecting to the web. (And it will be interesting to see if the Kindle, or a future tablet device, will have a similar effect on my reading.)

Maybe the Internet itself would be the biggest shock. Sure, we had Internet then, but nothing like now. The explosion of websites and blogs and online media. Even search engines are so much more comprehensive now. Finding the right answers and quality information was pretty hit and miss on yahoo and There was no wikipedia then! And we were still pretty dependent on television for breaking news.

Anyway, it got me thinking of what the world might look like in 2019. I thought I'd document my predictions here, with the probably insane thought that I could check back in a decade and see how I did. (I don't know which is the most presumptuous assumption -- that blogger will still be around then or that I will.)

But for the hell of it, here's what I'd like to see:
  • Wireless electricity. I know they're working on it, but it may be too far off. But it would be awesome not to have to worry about cords, or even batteries, anymore. Like the Internet, all your power will come right through the air.
  • Star Trek (TNG)-like mobile device. A little thingie that you wear (or maybe it's embedded in your head!), and it has access to everything you need. A communicator to phone and text with, GPS, all your information, data, documents, music, movies, etc. So when you go to the grocery store or make any purchase, you click or swipe or scan (or better yet, just THINK it) and it transmits your credit card info. Same with tolls, fares and everything else. And you make phone calls with voice recognition (which will be much more advanced, I hope -- the other day I told my iPhone to "call Karen" and it apparently thought I said "play Van Halen").
  • Cloud computing. This one is actually pretty far along, but that little device would also access all the information your computer does now, except it will be stored on the Internet instead of the device itself.
  • Virtual keyboard and monitor. Accessing the Internet or Word documents or other data via the device, you could do computing whenever and wherever. Little gloves or sensors would activate (or project) a virtual keyboard on a tabletop, other surface, or even in the air. Screen images would be projected on a virtual monitor, or in the air.
  • No typing! I'm hoping voice recognition will be good (and available) enough that I never have to type again if I don't want -- even on a virtual keyboard. I can walk around the house, shower, workout, do errands -- whatever -- and all I have to do to write an email or send a message or draft a document is talk it out.
  • Digital content. They're pretty far along on this, too, obviously, with digital music, iTunes movies, netflix online, the Kindle, etc. But instead of being stored on your mobile device or your Tivo or your computer, it's all out there. No more setting the DVR to record certain programs. Anything and everything will be available anytime (for a cost, of course).
  • Universal health care at an affordable price. Ha!
I know little of this is terribly original. Lots of it has been talked or speculated about, but these are the things on my wishlist.

My biggest hope from all this is that 10 years from now the thought of lugging a 7 lb. laptop around (as I did on four trips this year) will be as ridiculous a notion then as carrying around a CD library or an address book or a photo album is now. Actually, I'm hoping this one will come true within the next year or two.


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