I expect someday to wear at least five tech devices at the same time:

1.       Phone (in pocket)
2.       Watch
3.       Ring
4.       Glasses
5.       Ear bud

And thanks to the coming Internet of Things, every device in my environment will be connected. Combine wearable tech with the Internet of Things and you have the Era of Magic.

One of the rules I expect to emerge from the wearable tech industry is the idea that your abilities double every time you add a new connected device to your body. For example, having your phone with you creates one layer of identification. But having your phone, ring, watch, ear bud, and glasses with you is far greater assurance that you are who you say you are.

I would imagine that people have very specific walking and moving patterns. If you kill me and steal my five wearable tech devices they would eventually deduce by how you move that you are not me and the devices would shut off. That system only works if you have multiple wearable devices that are all synched, so again, more is better.

Having a paired watch and phone is great, but add a ring to the mix and your capabilities double. That's because you need both a ring and a watch to detect the position of the user's hand. And you need a ring for one-handed mouse-clicking in the air. Imagine walking to a crosswalk and doing the "halt" hand motion in the direction of traffic. Your ring and your watch can tell by their orientation to each other that you have formed that gesture and so they send a "pedestrian waiting" message to the street light. The lights change for you and you cross. It will feel like magic.

Or point at something in a vending machine and your watch and ring can detect which item you selected, charge your credit card, and send a code to release the item. To an observer it will seem that you pointed at an item and magic released it.

I also imagine that the rules of polite behavior will force wearers of tech glasses to signal what they are up to. For example, let's say you can't hear incoming phone calls unless you cup your hand to your ear. The ear bud and the ring would detect that they are in close proximity and release the audio. That way whoever is in the room with you knows you are focused on something remote. It's more polite.

Likewise I imagine that in order to read something with your Internet-connected glasses you will have to make a gesture as if your hand is a piece of paper and you are reading it. The hand gesture tells observers you are paying attention to something on the Internet. Again you probably need both your watch and your ring to detect that gesture.

I wonder if someday your tech glasses will be designed to read personalized messages overlaid on your environment without the glasses being connected to the Internet. In other words, the glasses would act more like electronic filters than like computers. The computing would be embedded in the environment and serving up messages on walls, furniture, screens, and name tags. But each message would be on a frequency specific to the viewers in the room. My glasses might only see every 76th bit while yours only see the 925th bit in the stream. A thousand people in a room would each see different personalized messages in the environment. That would feel less creepy than knowing someone is reading TMZ in their glasses while you talk to them.

That's how I see our cyborg future - lots of small tech upgrades that add up over time. My plan is to keep adding artificial parts until one day I die and no one even notices because my organic parts weren't doing much work anyway.

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book



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Jul 13, 2014
@smartmuffin, yeah, you're right about the internet of things and marginal gains. My example of a potential benefit of a smart dryer was the best I could come up with, and it was pretty pathetic. But I would like to get an extra load done in the evening, perhaps, if I'm likely to forget (90 minutes after putting the load in) that I need to get a few loads done.
Jul 9, 2014
I don't know. Maybe I don't want my appliances talking to each other. I am paranoid enough without having to worry about my washing machine getting bored and conspiring with my refrigerator to spill stuff on me
Jul 9, 2014

I think the problem with the "internet of things" is that the benefits are so marginal. As you correctly pointed out, nobody is going to buy a new expensive watch so that they can wave at a traffic light rather than pressing a button. Pressing a button is easy enough.

But that also applies to your dryer. It's a big expensive item that you don't have to buy too many times. Is anyone really going to spend the extra money for a "smart dryer" that can text you? Why? In order to be in the position to empty the dryer, you're probably near it anyway, and they've already solved that "problem" with a buzzer.

This is my problem with the "internet of things." The supposed gains are so ridiculously small as to not appeal to anyone but the most extreme technophiles. Would it be neat if there was an app on my cell phone that allowed me to remotely adjust the darkness setting on my toaster? Sure, I guess it would. But at the same time the fact that I have to manually walk to my toaster to adjust its settings doesn't even rank in the Top 500 of problems in my life right now.
Jul 9, 2014

The "internet of things" should be pretty cool, when the "things" aren't crap. This whole biometrics and gestures technology movement seems precarious. If the main idea behind these things is that we're going to spend thousands of dollars to do a 3-second interpretive dance in public places to avoid pushing a button, it's doomed. Likewise, if I just ran to catch a bus, and my biometrics automatically tell nearby vending machine to spit out diet coke, it's doomed. If it's mainly going to advertise stuff to us, it's doomed.

But when it's built into thermostats, sprinkler systems, septic tanks, coffee makers, dishwashers, washing machines, the shower and bath tub, fridge... There will be an evolving demand to control these things remotely, or to receive well-manicured alerts when an actionable status changes.

The problem with Silicon valley overall, is that they want to "solve problems" that require nothing but software or very little manufacturing and avoid government regulation. The government regulates to death anything worth doing, which is why there are only like three makers of washing machines in the USA despite a market of a hundred million units and a per-unit price that's high, and virtually no competitive features and very little technology.

Some day people are going to put a tiny, barely capable computer in that with wifi and push alerts, and that will be a neat "internet of things" addition. You'll be surfing the web, and the dryer will text you to let you know that it finished, and you can run your next load of wet clothes.
Jul 9, 2014
It would be "nice" if your wearable tech was biometric, so no one who wasn't you could use it. Preferably in in some way that wasn't easy fake like a fingerprint from a cut off finger. Would also be nice to not need all that crap. Voice control with the glasses & blue tooth should be plenty. All the processing could be done somewhere else. What you need is a good battery and transmitter/receiver. The ring/gesture idea is cute but could do better. The camera on the glasses could detect your hand position for example.
Jul 8, 2014
I just want doors that open and close themselves like in Star Trek, not like current "automatic doors". The swishing noise would be a plus, if it's not too loud. I definitely don't want the chatty intelligent doors depicted in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Jul 8, 2014
Scott, read the book "Quantum Thief". You will love it.
Jul 8, 2014
If it was possible to "short" general tech trends, I would be betting heavily against the whole Internet of Things" idea. All the prognosticators keep touting it but, beyond remotely controlling your thermostat or dimming your lights, I never see much in the way of specific use cases.
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Jul 8, 2014
I think the censored word was Quant-it-ies, but just use numbers for clarity.
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Jul 8, 2014
Another neat trick from wearable devices helping tell the net where your body is, is the effect of this on our internal nanotech. This applies more to a smartbelt/smartshoes/smart clothing than the watch, but...
Fat cells near the skin, in large !$%*!$%*!$% especially near the belt (stomach or love handles)? Target those for destruction. Weight problems are a thing of the past, and eat what you want (if you get enough healthy food).
Liver cell in the wrist? Hmm, tag it for destruction and report to medical center. The end of malignant cancers (possible exceptions: lukemia and skin cancer).
White blood cells collecting in lymph nodes? again, report to medical and inform boss that employee is sick. Employee is directed not to come to work, so flu/etc. doesn't spread as much.
Flip side of that is that we may actually want people to get flu and other minor colds to tune our immune system and keep it healthy.
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Jul 8, 2014
I fail to see how I coud make my watch interested in anything other than ticking loudly and telling whoever is wearing it the time.
Jul 8, 2014

Actually, darned few of the "elites" thinks in terms of the unwashed masses. They see a faceless entity called The Market, and tell the cameras and themselves that they merely supply what The Market expresses a craving for. If The Market can be made to "want" what is bad for the human race, the super-rich can absolve themselves and sleep peacefully.
Jul 8, 2014
exactly cliffclaven,

its not a chance for individuals to harness new tech for convenience or novelty, its a chance for elites to micromanage (regulate) and 'nickel and dime' users ($). technophiles are often deluded into thinking rules will be made by like-minded technocrats. they just don't have an accurate picture of western civilization and who is calling the shots.

its the same thing with net neutrality. progress can be good when its distributed, but its NEVER good when its centrally planned. its all about elites making choices for the unwashed masses.

there seems to be just enough useful idiots with dunningkruger to convince the remaining lemmings that tech progress is good, no matter which type of regime rules.
Jul 8, 2014
the ppl in charge of this tech, in charge of this society, all want to force you to do things their way, on their schedule.

if you get an offer for a 'free' widget for answering a survey, you know its more trouble than its worth. there is no free ride, even when costless social media claims its so.

facebook and google are getting more 'evil', but they were always evil, its just that their mask is slipping. just like apple wants to lock you into their product, against users wishes, corporations and politicians want to lock you into their rigged systems.

this tech will NOT hit the public without considerable groans from users (due to draconian policies). and its not just 'self interest' where corporations compete against each other, its a core hostility for end-users exercising choice. not such an evil thing if you believe its an illusion i guess. for the rest of us, its the most visceral attack on personhood that can exist.

any significantly useful new tech will be 'granted' to the public on terms of accepting a new social contract. one of zero anonymity, and invaded privacy. we all know this is truth.
Jul 8, 2014
Two things:

One, I'm not enthused about the idea of large numbers of people and machines being controlled by something like Spellcheck. I see you hypothetical "walk" light being activated by a rude finger gesture at a driver who just sped past, ambulances being dispatched when somebody is drunk or dancing badly, and all kinds of alarms going off when you choose to act in a slightly random way (i.e., walking to your usual coffee place at the usual time, changing direction when you see a former girlfriend).

Two, there will be the usual sacrifice of freedom for convenience -- that is, the convenience, cost-effectiveness and efficiency of whoever's selling hardware and apps. Just as fast food chains and processed products have created a bland and limited national cuisine (the real thing becoming increasingly expensive and inconvenient to get), the technology will lean on people very hard to stick to standardized behaviors that are easy to work with.

If you walk faster than an obese nerd, stuff won't work properly and you'll either pay a premium for a fix or force yourself to slow down. If you want to rent an obscure art film instead of a cgi epic with a similar name, be prepared to go through an override sequence to convince the system you don't want to see Transformers. And if connections are spotty in places you want to be but are beefed up in shopping malls and such, you may eventually build a virtual cage for yourself.
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Jul 8, 2014
I want the technology to buy a couple hundred acres of forest and mountain with a comfortable home and clean water. I'm iffy on the computer and electricity, but the Internet does contain an awful lot of !$%*!
Jul 7, 2014
Also a cautionary tale: whoever owns your data owns you. If you give it all to Google, they will surely sell it to someone else. So decide - sell who you are cheaply, or start owning it yourself (for a fee).
Jul 7, 2014
Anything widely available before you're about 5 years old is just part of the environment, no more magic than air. Anything invented from then up to about age 30 is cool and amazing. After 40 or 50, it's "why would anyone what that?" - except for us aging techies who are still riding the crest of the wave, but I'm sure once I fall off my board that'll be it.

If you really want a self-driving car, try the bus. Works great, very green. Or pick up an app like RideScout, it'll help you find/offer rides, take the bus, or take a bike, or...

A lot of the apps Scott describes don't even need gestures. "Snickers" in the vicinity of the vending machine is all it takes. And unless I'm out meandering, usually when I'm walking I have a destination in mind, and that destination is usually known to my tech - either it's in my diary or I asked maps for directions before I set out; either way, my tech will alert the crosswalks when I get close.

But Scott's idea of death going unnoticed is an interesting variation on Kurzweil's merging with the technology, only by inches. Our dogs know us so very well, and my spouse always knows what I'm going to say before I say it (or so she thinks; but she's usually right); once my tech is as smart as they are, I can disappear and no one will be the wiser.
Jul 7, 2014
God help us if they ever invent the Bluetooth condom. I'm opting out at that point. It takes the "Internet of things" to an unacceptable level. Leave my thing alone, technologically speaking.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2014
@snappybob actually I look forwards to the age of smart commercials, because once tech can replace whatever you are looking at with commercials, billboards become useless. Then you take off the tech and enjoy the national parks without any attempts to advertise to you...
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