New Tech Gear Making Star Trek Fiction a Reality
The world was a different place just a few short years ago - before everyone had a cellphone with instant communications and instant entertainment.
If you think that you've seen technology moving quickly in the last few years, you're right. But hang onto your hat. The next few years are poised to bring changes faster than ever before.
Recent research and announcements indicate that it won't be long before we will be wearing high tech gear. Last week, Google announced that their Google Glasses will be available to the public later this year. The company also rolled out a contest for a chance to buy a $1,500 -prototype of the glasses, giving us some idea of what their initial cost will be.
The augmented reality glasses will be Internet-connected. They will execute voice commands and be able to take pictures and video of everything you see. They will also be able to conduct video chats with friends and pinpoint your location to give you -directions. They will even be able to translate languages on the fly.
Another company, Pebble Technology, released its $150 Pebble watch that connects to an iPhone or Android phone wirelessly and gives you previews of calls, texts, email and notifications. It also allows you to control the music from your cellphone while displaying the time on its flat e-paper face. The changeable watch faces allow you to customize the watch.
Although not yet available, the Pebble will have Internet-connected apps for things like running and cycling. It will even have a golf rangefinder app.
Another area of -technology that is exploding is 3-D -printing. Simply put, 3-D printing is a process of using a printer-like device to make a three-dimensional object from a digital model. A design is created with CAD-like software.
Then the printer prints layers of materials until the design is complete. 3-D printing is already being used from everything from jewelry to rocket parts.
Recently, Staples announced it is bringing 3-D printing to the masses. A new service called "Staples Easy 3-D" will allow -customers to upload their designs to Staples' website, then pick up the printed objects or have them shipped. Easy 3D will be launched in Belgium in the first quarter of 2013 and should be in other countries shortly afterward.
A 3-D printing company called MakerBot Industries is already partnering with Nokia and providing templates to let Nokia Lumia phone users created their own 3-D printed smartphone covers.
If you give it some consideration, you will see that the -applications for 3-D printing are almost endless. Perhaps Staples -customers will start with printing cases for their -cellphones, but -imaginations all over the world will determine where it goes from there. Three-D printing will allow you to turn your ideas into real objects.
Other changes are also coming quickly. We will soon be paying for more things electronically. In fact, in the not-too-distant future, you won't need a -wallet or a set of keys. Keyless cars are already in vogue and Schlage and -others now have key-less home entry systems.
Mobile payments are already becoming commonplace and you can expect them to grow quickly. You can now use Twitter to make purchases via American Express.
Even Major League Baseball is going high tech, in addition to the many high tech stadium enhancements; this summer 13 Major League Baseball stadiums will accept mobile tickets via Apple's Passbook app. Just pull out your iPhone at the turn style to show your ticket and gain entry.
While I have always thought of the Chicago Cubs as being last place in everything, they will not be left behind in technology; the Passbook app will work at Wrigley Field.
The Google Glass project always reminds me of Jordie, the blind engineer in Star Trek who wore a visor to help him see. There is no doubt that wearable -watches will eventually be something a little more like the communicators that the Star Trek people wore on their uniforms.
The 3D printing reminds me of the Star Trek replicators where Captain Pickard ordered his cup of earl grey tea and had it produced instantly. Oh, and by the way, there is a rumor that Intel is working on a project similar to the Star Trek's holodeck, a simulated-reality world.
It won't be long before we are actually living in a Star-Trek-like world that we -perceived as the distant future just a short time ago. Yes, we have a lot to look forward to. Be ready to embrace change. We are in for a wild ride!
Update from last week's column: The high tech world certainly does move quickly. A feature that I told you about in the Opera browser last week is no longer available. In Opera 12, the newest version, the text-to-speech has, -unfortunately, been removed so Opera will no longer read to you.
Falguni Bhuta, Opera -representative states, "In Opera 12 support for speech recognition, text-to-speech and VoiceXML will be phased out. The voice library that Opera has been using to offer these features is no longer maintained and therefore not meeting the necessary quality requirements."
Contact Sandy Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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