February 10, 2014
I’m sure you’ll tell me which sci-fi books have the technology I’m about to describe. And you’ll delight in telling me Google or someone else is already working on it. So don’t think of this as an “idea.” It’s just something I want.
I want my phone’s apps to auto-adjust to my environment. And over time, I want everything in my environment to be Internet-connected or at least remote-controlled.
When I walk into a room, I want the home screen of my phone to automatically bring up controls and operating manuals for the technology that is nearby. I want to be able to operate everything in my environment, including the television and DVR, the lights, security, heat, AC, fans, curtain shades, and even microwave oven. When I walk into a store, I want my apps to know what sort of payment system is used so I can pay with my smartphone.
If you enter a room and the television remote doesn’t pop up automatically on your phone, you simply snap a photo of the TV and your phone goes to the cloud and finds a match. Thereafter, anyone whose phone registers the same GPS coordinates will have automatic access to the television’s remote control simply by walking into the room.
Let’s call this technology “push apps” because my guess is that someone already does call it that. You walk into a room and the right apps push to your phone.
In order for this system to work, I think these push apps need to always become your home screen. We humans are generally more interested in our immediate surroundings than in matters far away. I don’t want to hunt around for the right app every time I walk into a new room.
This vision works best with what I’ll call a ring-wand. It’s a ring on your finger, connected to the phone in your pocket by Bluetooth. The ring would be smart enough to judge its own movement, and perhaps have a microphone or even a tiny speaker. That way you could wave your hand like a magician and operate technology in the room.
I would think a ring could detect the following:
– Finger snap
– Direction and GPS (what it is pointing at)
– Fist versus open hand
– Waving motions (direction, speed)
– Voice commands (your phone is the brain)
I could imagine, for example, making a fist and pointing the top of the ring toward a TV screen to control a cursor. But if you make an open palm motion of the “halt” variety, the appliance powers off. And so on.
Keep in mind that the pairing of your ring and your phone is a great system for identification because a thief is unlikely to have both. You’d never need to enter another password. And you’d never forget your phone because your ring would vibrate as soon as you got out of range.
In the long run, when all electronics are connected to the Internet, this sort of world will be easier to accomplish, assuming all of the vendors don’t fight for their own standards and ruin the whole thing. In the short run, humans could “tag” rooms so all future visitors know what technology is inside them. (You’d need to untag technology as it is removed.)
My prediction is that smart watches will never be a big thing. The future is rings paired with phones.