Truth or Fiction… You won’t need a driver’s license by 2040

Tuesday September 18, 2012

“The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers recently released predictions that autonomous cars will account for up to 75 percent of vehicles on the road by the year 2040. The organization went even further, forecasting how infrastructure, society and attitudes could change when self-driving cars become the norm around the middle of the century.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/18/tech/innovation/ieee-2040-cars/index.html

Wednesday, December 21, 2033

“Walker? Ayden Walker?”

“Yes?”

“I’m Winston Lowe. My name mean anything to you?”

“You patented Rhino Mozzies. I tried to find you. I have questions for you, but you’ve sought me out. What can I do for you?”

“Not here. In my car.”

He gestured toward a two-seater REVA Dart. Its doors unlocked with a click.

“Drive mode. Manual,” Lowe said doing up his seat belt. As soon as Ayden did likewise the car lurched forward silently. Evidently Lowe had already put his foot on the accelerator so that the car was only waiting for the seatbelt to be engaged before proceeding. Within four blocks, the little car’s collision avoidance system had been forced to apply the brakes twice. Ayden didn’t know whether Lowe always drove this badly or whether it was a result of his obvious stress. Perhaps he was even deliberately driving dangerously to unsettle Ayden.

Ayden was glad he didn’t live in an era when cars relied on their human drivers to avoid hitting things.

Lowe didn’t look at Ayden, even when the car was motionless in the traffic. “All right, who do you work for dammit?”

…read more in INTERVENTION by WRR Munro

Truth or fiction… Project Glass

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Wednesday June 27th, 2012 – Google announces Project Glass: “a device that puts a camera and a tiny video screen into a kind of eyeglass frame.”

“This involved Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, jumping on stage wearing the device and engaging in a live video chat on Google’s social network with a couple of wing-suited sky divers as they jumped out of a plane. They were followed by stunt bikers and rappellers who dropped down the face of the Moscone West convention center, all the while sharing what they were seeing through experimental versions of the glasses.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/technology/google-shifts-efforts-to-hardware-with-tablet-and-eyeglasses.html

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Tuesday April 5th, 2033

“Ayden’s earpiece chimed softly.

[Video call from Linsey Carr,] it said and a small window appeared in his specs, top right where it wouldn’t block his view. Linsey was sipping from a steaming mug.

[Accept,] he subvocalized, then spoke aloud, “Hey Lin. How’s sunny Seattle?”

His audible voice boomed in his ears and shattered the quiet around him. Circumstances permitting, he preferred to speak audibly on person-to-person calls. His phone was quite capable of synthesizing his voice for the listener, and his neckband rarely misinterpreted the minute electrical signals within his larynx when he subvocalized, but somehow the result was thin, lacking timbre. Made him sound like an artificial.

“Oh, the comedian are you? I’ll be getting sick of this rain, I’ll tell ye that for naught. No video Ayden. Caught you at an inconvenient time, have I?” She peered directly into her cam with a warm smile. Her broad Scottish accent made her gorgeous West Indian looks all the more surprising, exotic. Married.

He touched thumb and third finger together, reactivating his gesture cuffs, which combined wrist nerve and inertial data to calculate exactly what each finger was doing and integrated seamlessly with the display his specs superimposed over his view. He smiled and flicked Linsey’s window larger.”

…read more in INTERVENTION by WRR Munro

A phone by any other name

We call them phones but of course that’s a convenient nonsense. Today’s smart-phones are powerful pocket computers.

Twenty years ago, computers were huge lumpy things that sat on (and under!) your desk. Even the ‘laptops’ were barely luggable. And of course, they had a fraction of the processing power and storage capacity of the simplest smartphone available today. ‘Nuff said.

The interesting question is, what will our ICT (informations and communications technology) gear look like in another twenty years?

Glad you asked.

The technology itself seems pretty obvious… famous last words. In my (here goes the first plug) novel, INTERVENTION, I imagine gear which is entirely build-able with only small improvements in existing technology.

My characters wear ‘phones’ which consist of distributed hardware…

Vuzix Smart Glasses

Vuzix Smart Glasses

specs – transparent displays built in to glasses, allowing complete immersion in opaque mode or augmented reality where icons and info float around in the visual field. This technology is already an engineering reality and is only a step or two away from affordability. Samsung has demonstrated big transparent OLED window displays and TDK has apparently started mass producing light, 2.4 inch transparent displays for mobile phones, but the slickest presentation of the technology goes to Vuzix Smart Glasses which, they claim, will start shipping in 2012.

Ambient Corporation's Audeo

Ambient Corporation’s Audeo

neckbands – throat mics are a relatively mature technology, allowing special forces types to whisper to each other whilst blowing things up and shooting bad guys, but truly silent subvocalisation microphones have been ‘in development’ for some time – which indicates there are stumbling blocks. But then again, it took a while for voice recognition to get from the early (completely useless) implementations to Apple’s Siri. The basics have been demonstrated though, using a sensor able to detect the nerve signals which control muscles, sensitive enough to pick up activity without the need for audible vocalisation.

Hybra Advance Technology Inc O.R.B.

Hybra Tech’s O.R.B.

earpieces – in both ears providing quasi-directional hearing and allowing, perhaps enhancing, ambient sounds rather than suppressing natural hearing. Really were just talking about the next generation of bluetooth headsets. I assume that there will be some design improvement though, perhaps like hybratech’s O.R.B.?

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spexton cuff

spexton cuff

gesture cuffs – accelerometers like those in your iPhone or Wii remote could keep track of where your wrists are. Direct muscle interface neurological sensors like Ambient’s will be able to calculate exactly what each finger is doing.

So imagine your iPad touch screen, only in 3D… oh, and without the screen. The icons and other objects you manipulate with your gestures will only be visible to you through your specs… unless of course you share your virtual view with a friend.

Naturally, the gear will use supercapacitor materials rather than separate batteries to store power, kinetic charging, low power graphene rather than silicone microprocessors (maybe for specs screens to –  as graphene is transparent), and skin conductance as well as wifi so all the gear can communicate using minimum power and with maximum security.

So… what will it be like to use this gear (here comes another plug)? Read INTERVENTION for my take on the experience.