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Monday, April 28, 2008

File under crazy future tech:

So, if you were wondering what the future might hold, here's a pretty good look into that crystal ball. Except that crystal ball isn't quite so much telling the future as just something to look through to see the present on the other side.

According to a few sites including TechRadar and Pink Tentacle, a Japanese company named NTT is releasing a technology that uses the body as a transmitter of data. Available by the end of June, Firmo (yeah, sweet name) promises to revolutionize (perhaps) the way that we touch the world.

Essentially what happens is that there's a thin transmitter device in someone's pocket that, when the person comes in physical contact with a receiver-linked device, sends a weak AC current through the person's body to the receiver in the form of electricity. The initial application for such technology is for electronic locks. As soon as a subject with a transmitter in their pocket touches a door handle fitted with an electronic lock and Firmo receiver, the door will unlock.

The price tag for a 5 transmitter, 1 receiver set is ¥800,000 (or around $8,000US), but that's expected to drop once it begins to be mass-produced.

Right now the speed is only 230 kbps and works unidirectionally, but NTT is working on a version that will be 10 Mbps and send and receive data from either side. (It may be about two years or so before that.)

Think about that for a second. Theoretically, you could receive all of someone's contact information from them the moment you shake their hand. (No more business cards to keep up with!) You could send and receive video to and from a computer, poster or even your friend just by touching it (or him or her). This technology may eventually be incorporated into cell phones and other mobile devices so that when you're looking at products in the store, your phone will receive discounts or additional information for a product when you pick it up.

The technology starts to get a little scary when you imagine that such chips could be implanted into the human body so that they never can be turned off. I have my own theories about all that future tech stuff, but I'll spare you at the moment. I'll just let you keep thinking about your body being used as a data network.

(Oh yeah. One more scary thing: The first commercially available super-human-strength robotic exoskeleton was announced today in—of course—Japan. The even scarier part: the system is called HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) and was developed by a company named Cyberdyne.)


Tommy Jones said...

An entire new dimension has been added to declining an exchange of contact information at the bar. I mean you can't even take the number and pretend you're going to call. You have to dodge body contact completely and blatantly.

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