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11/30/2006
02:19 PM
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Future Tech

First, a confession: Like a lot of tech enthusiasts, I'm a long-time science fiction reader (and a sometime science fiction writer), and so articles that describe new inventions, technical gadgets, or future possibilities always catch my attention.

First, a confession: Like a lot of tech enthusiasts, I'm a long-time science fiction reader (and a sometime science fiction writer), and so articles that describe new inventions, technical gadgets, or future possibilities always catch my attention.Several interesting news items this week made me think of the kind of SF yarns that I devoured when I was an adolescent. For example, Sony recently applied for a patent for a "human body communication system and communication device." Your body would be the capacitor, charged by your conductive clothing. The earphones would contain the electrodes that translate the signal into sound. You think it's weird today when somebody with a wireless earpiece looks like he's talking to himself? Wait until we're all walking WiFi networks.

Speaking of being connected: According to the University of Southern California-Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, many Internet users feel as strongly about their virtual worlds as they do about the real world. This should not be a surprise to anybody who has met a fan of, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- the ability of enthusiasts to absorb themselves in fictional universes can be amazing -- but apparently the authors of the study find it significant. Will we ever come to the point where digital divers will spend most, or all, of their waking hours in virtual realities? Time alone will tell. (Incidentally, there is at least one positive outcome of this trend, according to the study: 49% of users participate more in social activism since they became involved in online communities.)

Finally, on a more practical level, Xerox says it has invented printing technology that creates images that last only a day. The good part is that this Erasable Paper could lead to fewer dead trees, since paper will be able to be used over and over again. The better part -- at least, if you're fond of writing point pen letters -- is that the really nasty missive you wrote to your irritating coworker will disappear within a day, leaving nothing that your boss could later object to.

Any other interesting inventions, gadgets, or future tech that you've come across that you'd like to tell about?

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