Face to Face With the Future

September 25, 2009

Think of it as the nutritional shake of graduate learning. It’s dense. And it’s consumed quickly. Welcome to Face-to-Face Fridays.

To end each week in our foundational theory class, my 35 peers and I share 90-second presentations on topics not covered in our studies. The open-ended nature makes for a riveting, if somewhat disjointed, morning. Today, for example, we jumped from bionic lenses, to independent journalism, to interactive gaming, to poetry.

Futurcasting is a focal point of this course. This made me curious: In a parallel world years or decades ahead of ours, what might have our corresponding selves been talking about this morning?

Present: iPhone app FoodScanner — Train phone’s camera on UPC to call up nutrition information, track calorie consumption.
Future: Smart foods that change color or taste if they violate a consumer’s nutrition plan.

Present: Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health — Upload and organize personal medical records.
Future: A healthcare system that does this for us.

Present: Microsoft Courier tablet computer — Key features include dual screen and pen and finger multi-touch.
Future: Screenless computer that achieves the same functionality via tactile projection.

Present: Museum of Robots
Future: Museum of Humans

Present: Gowalla iPod app —Travel game rewards users for visiting ordinary and extraordinary places.
Future: Travel game rewards users for visiting ordinary and extraordinary times.

Present: Bing Visual Search
Future: Bing Telepathic Search

Present: USPS Virtual Box Simulator — Uses Web camera to help customer estimate whether an item will fit into flat-rate box.
Future: USPS Virtual Teleporter — Helps customer estimate whether item/being will fit into teleporter.

Present: Uber-customizable media player from Veeple and Big Gravity. Can embed documents.
Future: With now millions of superior presentation tools, PowerPoint, bewilderingly, remains widely used.

Present: Five rad virtual reality movies.
Future: Five rad virtual actors.

Present: Freeplaymusic.com — MP3 library free for nonprofit academic projects.
Future: LPs make an astounding comeback. Subliminal marketing campaign convinces world records really do sound better.

Present: Pentagon developing thought-controlled prosthetics.
Future: Stem-cell regenerated limbs.

Present: OnStar coordinates with police to slow down stolen vehicles.
Future: OnStar coordinates with police to slow down haywire autopiloted vehicles.

Present: Netflix awards developers $1 million for improving recommendation algorithm.
Future: Users pay Netflix several million dollars to weaken algorithm. It gets too intuitive for comfort.

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