Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wireless devices taking over

I still remember how cool I thought I was when I first used my Blackberry's Bluetooth capability to transmit pictures from my phone to the digital photo printer at Target. There's a lot more of that kind of wireless connectivity in our future, at least according to an AT&T rep who stopped by the newsroom today. Cathy Lewandowski came bearing a duffle bag packed with goodies any tech-nerd would love. She had the iPad, a couple of cool smartphones, and an interactive photo frame that allows family and friends to e-mail you pictures that automatically show up in the frame. (It runs on AT&T's 3G network with a subscription starting at $5.99).

But the Vitality GlowCap, a pill bottle cap that connects to the AT&T network, is what really got me to thinking. The fact that a pill bottle cap -- the most mundane everyday object imaginable -- can transmit data makes you realize how ubiquitous wireless technology will be in our near future. This cap is almost like a digital medical scold. When it's time for a pill, it glows. If you don't take the pill, it emits a reminder tone. If you still don't take it, it can initiate a phone call or text message to you. Anytime you open the bottle, data gets recorded and relayed to the Vitality folks. It can even keep track of when your prescription needs refilling. One one level, it's pretty cool. On another, it gets you to thinking of that Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report, where technology minds every move you make.

My daughter's reading George Orwell's "1984" for school. She keeps asking me what it means. I keep wondering why she doesn't get it. It now occurs to me why she doesn't: the freakily futuristic (and potentially invasive) advances Orwell dreamed of are now just part of the architecture of every day life. Technological gadgets like the GlowCap are becoming so pervasive today's teenagers don't see them for the minor miracles they are. They're just...there.

Interesting times we live in.


Anonymous said...

This really concerns me. How do we know that information is being kept on secure servers? If it is being transmitted wirelessly, what is to stop someone from hacking the network? Could evidence of taking or not taking a certain medication be subpoenaed from the network carrier in legal proceedings?
Reminders are nice, that's why I set my watch to remind me to take my meds.

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