Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
The future’s an elusive thing.
We think we know what it might look like. Then we get there, and it doesn’t look like that at all.
But still we argue about it and think we can control our journey toward it.
Few are more comprehensively intense about the future than those who live by and for gadgets.
I was fascinated, therefore, to see a new survey of fans that sought to declare which were the gadgets of the future and which would qualify as unpardonable future turkeys.
The survey was conducted by GI Gadgets, a social media platform where people argue about gizmos. The site claims to have examined 200 million points of interactive social data to reach its definitive conclusions.
At the top of its wish list was the Terrafugia TF-X. This dainty little flying and amphi-car is the primary object of desire. It’s seen, apparently, as a flying car for all of us.
This worries me about what our future skies might look like, as drones fly all around and Amazon desperately tries to fly you new underwear within the hour.
The Terrfugia beat out Magic Leap, the “Digital Lightfield” holographic company that aims to bring magic to one and all.
Rounding out the top 5 were the Inboard Electric Skateboard (please, no), the IC-R helmet — which is equipped with cameras and interior lighting — and MIT’s Fluid Interfaces Reality Editor. This last one control all your Internet of Things devices (of which you surely have at least 50) with the use of augmented reality.
To me, that is rather the definition of demented reality.
But what about the turkeys?
The biggest no-no was the Volvo XC90 Excellence Lounge Console Concept. This seemingly innocent gadget exists to turn you into a chauffeured first-class passenger, rather than a stressed driver. The gadgeteers deemed it unsafe.
Just behind it in the future-turkey list were Skybuds. These are wireless earbuds with a smartphone case for charging and storage. The GI Gadget politburo decided these are too easy to lose.
Next worst came the Starship Delivery Robot, which to my eyes seems like a well-designed porta-potty on wheels. It is, in fact, a little robot that will happily deliver things to your door. The survey said however: Oh, no. Those things can be stolen far too easily.
Next in the badlands was the Windspeed Skydeck, the delightful concept that allows people to sit on top of a plane and stare out at the beautiful nothingness.
Ah, no, said the gadgeteers, this is dangerous. I had always thought that the gadget-obsessed put cool before dangerous. I am chastened.
Finally, in the please-don’t category was the PhoneDrone Ethos. This promises to grant your smartphone access to the Third Dimension. What this means is that it’s a drone that takes your phone up to the skies so that you can take pictures with it.
The survey apparently declared that this is patently unsafe and will crash.
Neither Terrafugia nor Volvo immediately responded to request for comment.
It’s not for me to decide whether these supposedly gadget-obsessed people are wise or merely peculiar herd-followers.
I feel more certain, however, that the things that might be created in the next few years will make at least some of these ideas seem even smaller than they look to my eyes right now.