I like the idea of a wearable computer. I like the idea of a HUD, an earpiece, voice-recognition, wireless connectivity between all parts. I don’t think that the bulk of a computer needs to be worn, just the I/O and the computing power that the I/O needs to communicate with the “guts” of the machine.
I want a lightweight display, either as part of glasses, or a single lens in front of one eye (of my choice) that has physical controls to turn on and off total transparency, as well as software controls, so I can say something like “Transparency On” and my view will be instantly totally unobstructed. I want the display to have the ability to work like a standard computer monitor, and to have at least the 1280×1024 resolution I am used to.
I want the earpiece to not necessarily be connected to the eyepiece. Actually, I think every component of every system should be autonomous. They should communicate via a standard like Bluetooth or AirPort, wirelessly over short distances. I don’t believe it is possible yet, but the earpiece should double, not only as my audio interface for computing, but as a digital mobile telephone with a bone-conduction microphone.
If possible, I want these to components to be the only components that are strictly personal and always with me. I want them to be always with me. If there is a CPU needed, it should be an un-noticable and integrated into the display, acting basically as a smart terminal. Smart, because it needs to know how to communicate with a variety of external devices flawlessly.
Like keyboards. For anything but short messages and commands, voice input is cumbersome at best. For something like what I am writing now, I would certainly want an interface that could take advantage of the increased bandwidth of my fingers. I want the keyboard to be wireless as well. In fact, I would like to see some way of my I/O devices to automatically use whatever keyboard I am sitting in front of. Like, maybe a conductive contact in the corner of the keyboard that when touched communicates its unique ID to my I/O. Then until I touch another keyboard’s contact, my interface is only effected by this keyboard. So I could even help someone else out by typing on whatever keyboard they were associated with, without it effecting my own system.
Now that I come to think of it, since monitors as we know them will fall by the wayside when the technology I am describing becomes ubiquitous, I will not be able to look over someone’s shoulder at what they’re doing. Maybe a combination voice command/handshake would allow my I/O to show me what someone else was seeing, and automatically be associated with other devices they are using, in addition to my own, and my own resources. A simple verbal toggle between interfaces if necessary. Maybe more advanced users could utilize two separate screens, one in each eye of a pair of sunglasses that, when both screens are in use go completely black to remind you that you can’t work with two screens AND the outside world.
Access to software & the internet should be automatic. If I have purchased a license for a particular piece of software, I shouldn’t have to lug a particular piece of hardware around with me to access it. The CPU/Storage for computing should be considered part of the structure of homes and businesses, and should be designed as a delivery medium of whatever software/information you have access to. Some contextual, but a lot would be personalized. I should be able to access the music I downloaded in my living room no matter where I am, without carrying a storage device for it unless I’m going far from civilization. Anywhere there is cellular or PCS or other wireless telephone coverage in the world today, I should have full access to everything in my personal profile.
If someone sends me an email, I should be able to receive it everywhere I go without booting up a PC or worrying about archiving old items. The same with voicemail. I personally already have just one number for all personal communications, but it should integrate across the board; a single identifier to contact me no matter where I am at, perhaps with an extension to identify the reason for the call (business v. personal) in addition to standard callerID-type identification of the origination of the call.
I should be able to pull up my accounting package (which should get automatic updates of all financial transactions in realtime) and check my bank balance while standing in a store, trying to decide how much HD I can afford. I should be able to play my computer games while riding the bus across town, but the wireless connectivity that a car provides should prevent me from doing so when I am the driver. I should be able to get contextual information as well.
I should be able, when I am standing in a store comparing products, to access the manufacturer’s websites (or equivalent). This should be amazingly easy. When I am in a store, its connectivity system should provide contextual information about navigation and products and where I can find someone to help me if my personal system can’t provide enough information on its own. Now, information about every product doesn’t need to be transmitted to me until I ask for it. I should be able to walk into a store and say aloud “Where are the bananas?” and have directions provided for me. When I get to the bananas, I should be able to get more information about how to pick out bananas, what bananas cost at other stores I commonly shop at, and more general information (encyclopedia-type) if I so choose and am subscribed to such a service. So, I’ll be able to go directly to the bananas, compare the bananas available to images explaining banana ripeness, and when I get to the checkout, instead of sliding a card and entering a pin, my preferred method of payment is automatically selected.
Even more can be integrated; as I go through the day and get a craving for something or use another thing up or decide I want to make Pizza from scratch for dinner, and if I know what I want, I try to remember them or if I have someplace to write them down, I write them down and hope I remember to take the list with me to the store. So, I want bananas. I use verbal commands or an integrated keyboard to add bananas to my shopping list. (I believe that some of the services I’m describing, like price comparison or recipe access, will be available on a subscription or micropayment basis. So, since I shop all the time, I pay a couple bucks a month to access the price comparison service I prefer. For a little less money, perhaps for free, I would have to do the price comparisons manually, but all the information should be available in realtime, anywhere. Since I don’t use recipes a lot, when I access a single recipe, I pay a tiny fee (maybe a couple of cents at most) for access to it.) My system automatically finds the best price on bananas and perhaps (accessing shipping/distribution information) locates the best source for the cheapest, freshest bananas. Then later I decide I want to make a pizza; my system knows what ingredients I have a home, and after accessing a recipe (and clearing it with me to be sure that that is the pizza I am thinking of, or perhaps it already has the recipe for a homemade pizza that I use all the time on file and uses that) it adds the appropriate ingredients to my list for me and schedules my oven to start pre-heating automatically when I get home. Then when I stop by the grocery store that has been indicated to me to have the best prices for my immediate shopping needs (assuming I haven’t opted for home delivery), I am not only directed to the bananas, but I am directed to each of the items on my list in the most efficient order.
That sort of thing should be normal. I want my grandchildren to not know that there was ever a more difficult way to do things. The internet should not be a time-consuming destination, but more like an appendage to your mind. Everything should be connected. I should be able to access my dishwasher from anywhere and find out if I have enough clean plates and silverware for 8, and if not, be able to start my dishwasher immediately or order an extra setting or two to be delivered before I arrive home. No thought of a “computer” need occur. “Computer” should be everywhere and in everything and I should only see it as it is represented via my I/O.
I feel like I’m going on too long and covering too many subjects. I could go on much, much longer, giving very specific details about my vision for the future of computing. Perhaps another day.