Your Fingertips -- Micro Tech Hubs of the Future

September 10 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

An amazing concept coming out of the Design Incubation Centre is the Touch Hear. In effect, a computer is implanted, glued or bonded onto a fingertip and ear which could then decipher foreign languages, look up definitions of unknown vocabulary, and even tell you how to pronounce the words correctly.

“By touching a word or phrase in a particular piece of reading material, the user can listen to its related information, like its pronunciation or its meaning.”

Consider it a dictionary/Wikipedia/Babel Fish all at the tip of your finger.

If something this powerful can be put into your fingertips, what else could the future possibly cram in there?

Cell Phone — Something I’ve always thought about is implanting a cellphone into the hand. The pinky finger would be the mic, the thumb the speaker, and the dial pad on the palm of your hand. Would it look silly? Heck yes, but at least you’ll just look crazy as opposed to the bluetooth headsets that make you look like a Star Trek villain). Of course the radiation of having a phone implanted into your hand (especially when you have to re-charge it or replace a broken part) might be a little on the invasive side. But that’s the cost of progress!

Projector — Besides the fact that you could endlessly pester any teacher of yours by shooting a laser light from your fingertips, you could also project other images or even movies. Granted you’d have to keep your hand perfectly still if you plan on avoiding the wrath of your fellow theater goers. By hooking it into the mind we could possibly see our thoughts projected onto the wall as well, great for when you’re trying to explain an object to someone who just can’t picture it. The only problem would be controlling your mind so well that the passing supermodel doesn’t interfere with your presentation on black holes. Whoops, that’s embarrassing.

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When Panhandling Meets Digital Currency

August 26 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 4

If you work in a major city chances are you see the homeless everyday, deftly ignoring their gaze or side-stepping their outstretched hands. Yet despite our avoidance, we still occasionally give them a dollar from our pockets. But one thing I’ve never heard people discussing is this – With the digitization of money, what will happen to the homeless?

Our society is inexorably moving closer to a world where paper currency is going to be obsolete. Even small items such as coffee get the plastic treatment for the person on the go. When you pay for your coffee, what are the odds you charge it to a card? Chances are you opt for either credit or debit. In effect, we are eliminating spare hard change.

I experienced this phenomenon just a few months ago when coming out of my local butcher shop. Having paid for everything with my credit card, I had no spare change for the man who sets up shop just outside. He asked me for change, I replied that I had none. Because this statement was true I felt great that I was able answer truthfully while still employing evasive maneuvers.

With hard currency becoming increasingly scarce, perhaps what panhandlers need is a card-scanning device, much like MasterCard has right now withPayPass where purchases under $25 just need a wave of the card. We’d have to outfit every panhandler with a card reader that deducts $1 from people who swipe their cards across their device.

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Sony's New Reader Marks Another Step Toward Hand-held Digital/Text Convergence

October 03 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

The latest edition of Sony’s Reader, the PRS 700, marks another significant step forward in the race to replace traditional paper books with easy to use digital counterparts.

Sporting a six-inch interactive touch-screen display the new model allows readers to flip pages with the slide of a finger. In addition, readers can easily search terms within a document or book, create notes using the virtual keyboard and highlight text with the included stylus pen.

Five pre-set text sizes are available so readers can find the one most comfortable for them.

Expanded memory offers enough capacity to store about 350 average digital books. By using a removable memory stick, that number can be upped to thousands of books and documents.

The new PRS-700 will be available next month for about $400 just in time for a holiday shopping season that may not respond all to well to the relatively high price. At the same time, it appears to be the closest thing to a paper book killer to hit the market so far.