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A computer in your shirt cuff, a video on your T-shirt?

Ross O. Storey | Jan. 12, 2009
Who knows what the next generation may devise?

My 16-year-old daughter is a never-ending source of education and inspiration for me when it comes to information technology. And, some of the most valuable insight she provides, come from casual daily conversation. For example, the other day I asked her why she didnt wear a watch. Why do I need a watch, she said, when I can see the time on my mobile phone.

Wow, I thought, Perhaps the humble wrist watchs days are numbered, thanks to the worlds love of mobile devices.

Call it serendipity, but the very next day, on our comprehensive IDG information technology news service, I read a report from the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show about LGs plans to introduce a high-speed wireless wrist-watch phone with video chat and text messaging.

Many readers may have forgotten, but people of my vintage may recall a cartoon character called Dick Tracey, a fictional comic strip detective who was popular back in the sixties. He was famous for using a wrist-watch telephone to report to his office, a bit like Maxwell Smarts trademark shoe phone. A Dick Tracey movie, starring Warren Beatty, was produced in 1990 based on this American pop culture icon.

So here, towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we finally have a real Dick Tracey wrist watch phone. I wonder how long it will take before we have mobile devices a la Star Trek. When will we, like Captain Kirk, be able to speak Beam me up, Scotty and be transported instantly to another place?

But, being somewhat fascinated by watches, I have my doubts that they will die they are too much of an established fashion accessory and their designers seem to already realize the threat from technology. Some of the classier watches are even now including wifi links to ensure their accuracy; others are incorporating compasses, and, no doubt, it wont be too long before we have watches equipped with GPS systems. You can pay anything for a watch. I noted a US$98,000 model in a Singapore store window recently. If people are prepared to pay such prices for a watch, what will they pay for more adventurous technology?

Using some imagination, I can even envisage clothing of the near future incorporating technology. What about long sleeve shirts with a mobile phone/computer/timepiece crafted into the shirt cuff with cuff buttons as the controls? Or cuff links as mobile phones? Or eye-glasses with built in computer screens? Or video T-shirts to let the other sex know about your availability?

Who knows what the next generation may devise? Its fun just thinking about it.

Ross O. Storey, currently the Managing Editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia, is responsible for the editorial content and production of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia magazines.

 

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