Digital Implants (in your fingertips)


Push hard on my skin, and you’ll find that the source is two lumps of glass, metal, and plastic embedded in my right hand: a years-old magnet in the ring finger and a newer NFC chip in my thumb webbing. Before getting the magnet, I read paeans to the coming cyborg revolution. After putting it in, I had people tell me my hand would fall off. Since getting the NFC chip in June, I’ve read that I’m carrying the Mark of the Beast and found instructions for how to disable it with a taser. Well, I come from the future, and I’m here to tell you: transcending the limits of the flesh can be downright dull.
Source: The Verge 

The woman writing above can sense/feel local magnetic activity – whether it is microwave ovens, hard drives, regular metal or other magnets. It has added another dimension to her senses, and likes it – although her friend who had the same magnet inserted is now over it.

And her NFC chip – it is pretty much useless at present, not enough uses for it. And situations where she would love to use it, like replacing her employer’s security keycard, aren’t an option because it is non-standard. Still it is interesting that she purchased the chip and installation kit online and inserted it herself.

You can guarantee one day there will be an Apple of implanted chips that will provide you with secure identification that can’t easily be stolen from you. Just not yet (except for that Spanish nightclub a decade ago!)


360 Degree Cameras on our Heads

I’m really going out on a limb with this prediction – but to achieve some things with human bodies we will need to adjust.

Right now Google Maps has cars that drive down every road and capture street images. They achieve this by using a special camera mounted on a small tripod above the vehicle.

They also have a “self-driving” car which has a 64-beam laser on the roof:

The car has been driven for thousands of miles without an accident, but the key to this is 360-degree views.

When humans want to combine computers with their real-world activities, they might find that products like Google Glass are too restricted – that you need to look at something for the system to know it is there.

I suggest that the need will arise for a 360-degree sensor system, using cameras and/or lasers, microphones and so on. The only easy place for it is on top of your head (or perhaps a necklace of sorts.

Eventually ways will be found to make it look cool, perhaps like elongated skulls wearing beanies. There won’t be much use for it when you are at home, so it will be removable.


The 180 Degree iWatch

This image is the closest I have found to how I imagine the iWatch will look:

I think the screen will be 180 degrees long. Turn your wrist to see the bottom of the screen.

Actually it won’t quite be 180 degrees, because opposite the on-screen watch will be a fingerprint scanner (works best with the thumb of your other hand) that will double as an on/off switch. It will be at the place where you would check your own pulse.

The on-screen watch will be the only visible part of the screen (probably be a separate screen) unless you touch the scanner / or if an alert is being displayed along with a vibrate.

Regarding charging, I think the iWatch will come with a night stand that charges the watch while working as a bedside alarm clock. Many people take their watch off when they go to bed, and it isn’t hard to achieve.

Battery life will be one week, but much less if you use various apps. One week will be when you only use it as a watch and bluetooth connection to your phone.

Price will be $349-$399

Saving Paper via the word The

Making news recently was the idea (from an American teen) that simply using Garamond as the main government font, millions of dollars could be saved:

Using the General Services Administration’s estimated annual cost of ink — $467 million — Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% — or $136 million per year. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also jumped on board, he reported.

Unfortunately the readability of printed Garamond means this idea is unlikely to be adopted.

But here’s another idea that will not only save in print costs, it will also massively reduce the bandwidth associated with online writing:

Abbreviate the world the to just “t”. 

I am convinced that adjusting to this reduction would be quick and painless. Try it:

T quick brown fox jumps over t lazy log.


Wearable Tech: Google Glass Will Fail, Others Will Win

In the latest issue of Wired is an excellent article on wearable tech, like Google Glass, Pebble and so on. It seems to me that the winners are losers of the near future are quite easy to predict, due to one important factor – wearable tech is hard to hide (for now).

However gorgeous a Bluetooth earpiece, it fundamentally says that its wearer might need to make or receive a call at any time—and for most people, that’s not a cool message to send. It makes the wearer look like they jump at the world’s beck and call rather than engaging with it on their own terms.

Bluetooth earpieces haven’t taken off. For example, sales were predicted to grow by just 3% in 2012. By comparison, corded headphones for listening to music are a recent success story. What’s the difference? Well, as is pointed out above, it comes down to your social environment. Bluetooth earpieces are fine when you are pacing about solo in your office, but unacceptable for a dinner date. Corded headphones are only used when you are in solo mode and not socially interacting.

Google Glass is too in-your-face. Like earpieces, people know you are wearing Google Glass and will rightly decide that they don’t have your full attention. Until a similar product can be made that is indistinguishable from regular glasses, it won’t take off. There might be an exception though – sunglasses. I can imagine tech being incorporated into sunglasses and people taking them on or off to suit the environment.

Wristwatches, however, are already fully entrenched into society, and we are used to people glancing at them. We are also used to people glancing at their smart phones. Because a smart watch is too small to do much that is meaningful when you have company, it will be successful.

Likewise with rings – too small to matter. Nobody is going to stare at their ring for 30 seconds, no matter what is being displayed on it.

Another factor is connectivity. Bluetooth isn’t perfect, and having that permanent (wireless) connection running across and through your body makes some people uncomfortable. I expect that many people will take a long time to convince that they need to be permanently wired.

And of course battery life needs to improve. Having to recharge our tablet and phone every day is most I am willing to tolerate. I won’t recharge glasses, a watch and a ring as well.

So, my predictions for current technology:

Google Glass FAIL
Any smart glasses FAIL (except perhaps if they are sunglasses)
Smart watches WIN (but only if the battery lasts for a week)
Smart rings WIN  (but only if the battery lasts for a week)

Wearable tech for soldiers / sports / business WIN

FAIL means that uptake will be limited to tech geeks and people that have an extra need for the device due to work or sports.

In the future, big hits will be wearable tech that you can’t see/tell someone is wearing. Primarily that means Google Glass that looks 100% like regular spectacles.

In the distant future, perhaps 15-20 years from now, the big hit will be imbedded tech. That means a video camera that looks like a freckle, or is built into your eyes. That means enhanced vision. That means bionic hearing. That means embedded sensors, comms and drug delivery systems. When nobody knows you have it, it will really take off.


Real ID / Real Avatar

Here’s an idea for the future – grown-ups playing dress-up online. Initially it would be for virtual social environments and virtual business environments.

It will depend on two other technologies becoming every day:

Real ID – an international, verifiable ID for online purposes. The sort of thing that could be used for online voting, and serious discussion forums etc.

3D Full Body Scanning – so that your avatar can be created. This already exists to make 3D models of small objects.

So, the idea is to enable people to use avatars in online 3D environments, but keeping their look close to reality. After being scanned, users can tweak their avatar as much as they like in terms of:

  • hair
  • clothes
  • skin color / complexion

Additionally, they can change one other part of their body, for example:

  • nose
  • breasts
  • butt
  • cheekbones
  • chin
  • biceps

You should be able to recognize someone in real life from knowing their avatar. But by changing the one thing that irks them the most about their looks/body, and giving everyone nice skin (tan optional), and an unlimited range of clothing and hairstyles, people will be tempted to play dress-up. With renewed confidence, while still being true to themselves, they will feel like meeting others in online environments.

It is perfect for online dating – singles parties. It could work for business environments as well.

With time the same technology used to capture people and represent them in cartoon form in movies should be available to consumers. Software and a Kinect device will enable your mannerisms to be authentic.

Car Cameras That Film The Driver

This might be decades away, but it could be implemented tomorrow. This is what we currently know:

1. There is a trend towards black box flight recorders for cars. Cars can measure impact forces to determine whether the air bags should be deployed. It is simple to record such data. Police and now civilians are using video cameras that record what is happening in front of the vehicle – for use as evidence for who is to blame in an accident. GPS systems are also being used for trucks, so that in an accident we know how fast they were traveling just prior.

2. People are happily trading privacy for benefits, and with time we are allowing more and more of our private life to become data.

3. Many accidents are caused by inattention due to:

  • speaking on a phone
  • texting
  • opening / consuming food and drink
  • sneezing
  • lighting a cigarette
  • falling asleep
  • conversing / arguing with others in the vehicle
  • being on drugs or alcohol

In many places phone use by drivers has been banned. And of course so has being drunk. The obvious next target for the authorities is anything else you might be doing with your hands and distracting you. They might want to ban eating and drinking while driving.

A good way of proving if someone was distract just before crashing is to film the driver. Like store security cameras it could be on an overwrite loop of say 5 minutes. That way, if people knew it would:

  • only ever be seen by crash investigators
  • only contain the last 5 minutes

they probably wouldn’t mind it being there. And such a device would be dirt cheap to deploy, the trick is to get it to stop recording when an accident occurs.