No Personal Jet Packs Yet, But Still

O CarAccording to the experts, there was very little or nothing particularly new at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.  Well, pooh on you, you jaded roosters – I found it plenty fascinating.

It’s not just the whole tablet thing, although there’s more than enough variation to keep us occupied for at least another year.  We’ve got tablets that slide out and tablets that dock in, tablets that swivel and flip and connect.  (Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if next year they came up with a tablet that could dance.)  But aside from all the tablets, and the obvious implications for readers on the digital book market, one thing struck me in general: The In Death reality is a lot closer than I thought.

For those who aren’t familiar with J.D. Robb’s In Death series, it depicts a world fifty years in the future, where there are autochefs and robot servants, handheld audio/visual communication devices, lots of synthetic foods, weird and wacky cars;  in short, everything that could be touched by technology has been touched, and possibly enhanced.

But hang on a second.  That’s not the future; that’s the present.  We don’t have an autochef, but now there are apps that track your refrigerator’s contents and tell you what’s going off.  And we don’t yet have robot butlers and security guards, but Japan has a robot that helps elderly customers with their shopping.  Kinect is just about as sci-fi as they get, and the CES also unveiled the latest upgrade to Pleo, the robot dinosaur pet, which senses temperature and motion.

Equally cool on my list: Teknion’s Charging Lamp, which incorporates the magnetic charging pad into the base of the lamp, and which by extension could be enlarged into an entire desk surface.   Apps to navigate and drive your car.  And this device which I’d just heard of: A 3D printer.  Frankly, even five years ago much of this would be have totally off the wall.  Now, it’s just around the corner.

Of course, none of this really matters in the long run.  One of Ms. Robb’s points in the In Death series (one that is hammered over and over again) is that human nature never changes, despite all the technological advances in the world.  There’s always something bigger and better, or faster and stronger than the latest doohicky.  And don’t novels always tell us that technology is no match for basic human emotions?

No argument here.  All these gadgets do is make life simpler, or more interesting.  The possibilities are endless, and make no mistake, I think they’re ultra cool.  But could we do without them?  You bet.

- Jean AAR

8 thoughts on “No Personal Jet Packs Yet, But Still

  1. Could we, if we really, really, really had to live without technology. I suppose. We could go back to riding horses where we need to go…and washing our clothes on washboards in the river…and growing our food in backyard garden plots…

    But, there are a few gadgets that I’d find it really hard to give up. I NEED my Garmin….without it, I get lost…a lot.

    I like my Android phone and all of its many functions. I like that wherever I am I can get the weather forecast and temperature. I like that I can carry more books than I could read in a month on it and have them all at my fingertips wherever I am that I have a spare minute.

    I am a geek at heart and love technology…except when it fails to function as it is supposed to…

    I’m sure we could live without some of our technology…but I’m sure glad we don’t have to.

  2. I haven’t jumped onto the techno wagon for e-books or bought an iPad yet. Hubby and I figure there are bugs to be worked out and we’re hopeful that as things progress, the price of tablets will come down to earth.

    Now as a person who hates getting ‘trapped’ on a phone, e-mail was the best invention ever. (I had a friend who could talk easily for 3 hours – my arms used to go numb – then I would have to pretend something dangerous fell on a dog, or that hubby needed me or something.)

    And finally, as someone not exactly running around in the real world, the virtual world has let me meet so many wonderful people who really know me because I wasn’t going to pretend online. And wonders of wonders they still like me!

    Now, I really do want a robot to cook me dinner – or someone who won’t charge me an arm and a leg. My Mom stopped cooking for me when I married 15 years ago. Damn I took that for granted!

    CindyS

  3. A few years back I coveted one of the photo tables that looked like an ordinary coffee table but was actually a computer that could download the pictures from a camera by just setting a digital camera on it, act as a Skype screen, become a gaming table, etc. etc. I’m not sure what happened to that technology–there were predictions of $5,000 and up price tag. But looking at what some people spend for gigantic flat screen TVs, the techno coffee table wasn’t all that outrageous. But what happened to it, I wonder. Wish I knew.

    Jane, a cocoa crisis is definitely a crisis. My husband is part of California’s Air Quality staff, but I think he better work on curing the cocoa crisis instead of assuring clean air.

  4. But all the tablets are concepts. *whine* I want my perfect tablet now!

    Crap, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without chocolate.

  5. A few months back there was news of a cocoa crisis that definitely put me in the mind if In Death. They said that, unless cocoa plantations start growing it sustainably and responsibly, in 30 years chocolate will be a luxury item like caviar. And, what do you know, that’s what it is in In Death — everything is synthetic, except for the uber-rich like Roarke.

  6. Where do I sign up to be notified immediately when the autochef is available? Oh, and the heated drying tube.

  7. Well, we could do without everything except my kindle.

    It is always a challenge for me when the electricity goes out, and almost everything quits working (which it has done twice this past week for almost 12 hours).

    You are so right about the emotions, but I do think that it has certainly changed the way we live. One of the things I notice most is that kids don’t play like I used to do. I rarely see them riding their bikes, or playing any type of ball.
    Now they are inside with their game boys, x box 360, and wii.

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