The Future is Now : Remember that neat little wrist watch Dick Tracy used? You know, the one that had the phone, TV, etc all built in. And it told time, too. Way back when Dick Tracy first appeared, a watch like that was nothing more than a wistful look into the technology of the future. At the time, I’m sure that it was widely thought that technology would never get so advanced that a simple little wristwatch could actually provide all those functions.
Of course, that fanciful future is the here and now. Along with tremendous gains in the size, speed and power of computing devices, a strange and wonderful thing is happening… A sort of revolution is taking place, something called Technological Convergence. You see, a TV used to be just a TV, something that you watched television shows on. A telephone was something that, for a hefty monthly fee to Ma Bell, you could use to speak to friends and family all over the world. And a wristwatch, well, was something that told you the time.
Over the past few years, and seemingly growing momentum recently, these standalone devices that once served only a single, simple function are now beginning to be multi-purposed. TV sets can now be enabled to surf the net, phones can be used to get and send email, and watches can be used as Instant Messaging devices. The most obvious advancement in the technological merging arena is the cell phone. A simple cell phone, with the right services attached, can display movies, music, email, web, act as a personal calendar and much more. It is amazing to think that just a few years ago a cell phone was just a phone. Another example is the PlayStation 2 gaming console. It is a CD player, DVD player and an Internet device all in one.
If you are inclined to think that all this ‘convergence’ is some amazing stuff, I agree, but remember: this is just the beginning. I recently heard of a company making a refrigerator that knows when you are running low on milk. That would be great, except I think I’ll wait for the model that lets the grocery store know I need milk and automatically places the order for me.
We are still a far cry from having wireless internet-accessible chips implanted in our brains. In terms of technology, that is, perhaps not in terms of time.