Welcome to the future of technology!

Letter from New Delhi

Tomorrow’s gizmos nothing earth shattering but interesting

Kul Bhushan

The future of technology as seen through the eyes of MIT Media Lab scientist David Rose is about making gadgets personal. Smart phones will bend, forks will talk and tell you to stop eating more, and umbrellas will predict the weather and trash cans that order groceries.

If you not want to elbow through 160,000 visitors on the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, just surf on the net. Following it on the web gives me an impression that this year has no big bang product like Google Glass or Apple Watch. Yes, there are some attractive devices but not earth shattering ones that you must buy at any cost.

Basically, the smart watches are better designed and more fashionable. After all, you want to wear a good looking watch that your role models or celebrities wear and so after developing the smart watch, many companies are making them look better and turn them into a fashion statement. Of course, they add new features too but you still have to wait for the Apple Watch coming in March this year.

Parrot has launched a flowerpot that will look after your plant for many days when you go on a holiday. Parrot Pot, a plant pot that contains sensors to measure soil moisture, temperature, sunlight and fertilizer and keep it well when you return. A new Parrot Zik 2.0 headphone has been a hit at the CES.

To monitor your baby with your smart phone, a cute iBaby has been launched. This round device monitors your baby as you get on with your house or office work and should be a boon for parents with newborn babies.

A new and improved smart Ring enables you to assign tasks on your phone and smart home gadgets using up to 23 different hand gestures, such as turning off the lights with a waggle of your finger. But if that’s not enough for wearable technology innovations, BMW is showing off its smart watch-controlled car. The sensor-filled i3 can essentially self-park when the driver uses a smart watch to activate the “Remote Valet Parking Assistant” function.

A company called Holi introduced its Smart Lamp and Sleep Companion, a smart phone-controlled coloured light that relaxes you into sleep with warm red and pink light and wakes you up gently with the help of a blue hue.

The reds and pinks direct the body to release sleep hormone melatonin, the company claims, and the blue light wakes the body up before the alarm wakes the mind.

If you do wake up in the night, you can activate a seven-minute “meditation programme” of light sequences to lull you back to sleep again. It doesn’t work on babies though, which is annoying for the parents of infants with sleep issues, who probably need it most.

The lamp also monitors your bedroom environment using, among other sensors, your smart phone’s microphone to track noise levels. It also plays romantic music for getting real close.

New skates called Travelor double your walking speed. How? Try them on!

I should stop as the Consumer Electronics Show has endless goodies!

The future of technology as seen through the eyes of MIT Media Lab scientist David Rose is about making gadgets personal. Smart phones will bend, forks will talk and tell you to stop eating more, and umbrellas will predict the weather and trash cans that order groceries.

These are some of the devices that may come in the market this year but how many of these will be super-hits is unknown. Most awaited is the Apple watch expected around March but other similar watches are already launched.

We may also get iPhone7 and probably iPhone8. How much better these new models will be remains to be seen but the bets are that they will be more elegant and more practical especially in recharging them. Tablet versatility taken to a whole new level. Already a new tablet offers a flexible display that allows you to bend or fold it to fit your needs. It also features two cameras and offers inductive charging.

The weather umbrella has a handle that glows with blue light that indicate if the forecast calls for rain. Trashcan has a tiny camera and a bar code scanner that records everything you throw away and sends the information to Amazon.com, where it is immediately reordered and shipped to you. However, you will have to safeguard the trashcan or it will be stolen!

Now a new smart eating fork alerts you with a gentle vibration when you are eating too quickly. It also measures, using the tines of the fork, how long it took to eat your meal, the amount of “fork servings” taken per minute, and the time between servings. All this information is uploaded — more self-monitoring data — for your own enjoyment or horror, depending on how you eat.

Then there is coffee table that becomes an “instant photo album,” uses real-time speech analysis to pick up keywords from your conversation to pull up relevant Facebook feed photos.

Welcome to the future of technology!

 

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi

 

* Published in print edition on 27 February  2015

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