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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Impact of iPhones, iPods, and other devices on Our Future

A local newspaper writer recently sought input on the "newspaper of the future."

The new flexible, scroll-like LED displays were mentioned as one solution.

My response was this:

In the not too distant future the little ear piece millions of people call their "bluetooth" will also project a very sharp, holographic image just before us in whatever dimensions we desire. Transparency will be adjustable. I have seen lab models of such a tiny projector. Right now there are heads-up displays that project certain controls on windshields of different craft. Both devices will distract us from driving and life much like the iPod and mobile phone do now. Special glasses already allow users to watch wide-screen movies anywhere they want, except while driving!
Passion Flower, Annapolis 034919
My additional comments, not included due to space restrictions in the newspaper comment box, were:

For those concerned about battery-power restrictions, these devices may not require batteries. One solution is a microscopic gas-powered turbine. At this stage in life I am somewhat concerned about wearing a gas-turbine behind my ear, no matter what the size. Nokia had a cell phone that uses fuel cells under development, at one time. A third possibility is a microscopic reactor, already in-use in some heart pacemakers. A reactor behind my ear has even less appeal than a gas turbine in the same location. Another researcher has proven that sufficient power can easily be derived from excess heat given off from the human head. I am not sure about a steam turbine behind my ear either!

The amount of power consumed by portable electronic devices is decreasing as microchip developers design chips that require less power. Already flash memory provides data storage using a fraction of the power spinning hard drives require.

Projection systems are notorious for their electricity consumption. However the portable Apple computer I am using to write this piece already incorporates LED backlighting technology. These displays were made available in June of 2007. I have been told super-efficient solar panel technology can derive power from basic room lighting.

Another type of projection technology takes existing room light and magnifies it with a lens, this technology uses only a small amount of additional energy to create an image.

Controls for new portable devices will be voice-activated for the most part. I already press a button on my bluetooth headset, speak the name of my contact, and my cell phone dials the correct number for me. Voice-recognition software has come along way from the early versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking. Customer Service applications of voice recognition software may not be appreciated by many but they sure beat longer wait times on-hold.

The initial objections that I had to new portable devices form my strongest arguments against them. With each new device our young people learn to carry around with them there is less and less contact with the outside world. Every day I pass thousands of people, young and old, wearing headphones or glued to a cell phone. When these iPod-obsessed minds are forced to interact, by some unexpected interruption, I notice that they cannot easily talk to me or other people. Their minds are elsewhere, far off in the distance realms of fantasy, musical or otherwise.

Cell phone users are even more distracted by the devices they now use to fill nearly every walking hour. Driving or walking along urban streets in oblivion, they pose a real hazard to themselves and others. Every other driver now seems distracted by a cell phone to a great extent. The more we rely on devices to entertain us the less capable we seem to be of entertaining ourselves and others. Some of the most boring people I spend time with are those who must always be listening to an iPod or talking on the cell phone. Now that people can do both, with devices designed along the lines of the new iPhone, I have nearly given up hope of meeting a conscious being during my daily outings.

An attack by an EMP or electro-magnetic pulse bomb would destroy every unshielded electronic device. This unfortunate occurrence might actually be a blessing in disguise for a modern society so obsessed with living anywhere except in the present.

Link: Washington Post article

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