Living in the future

William Gibson famously said:The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

I am living proof of Gibson’s observation. I am one of the fortunate few who reside at the future end of the curve. Indeed, over these past few months, I feel as if I have catapulted farther to the bleeding edge than I have ever been before.

Here’s one example:

A few days ago, my wife and I were at a local restaurant waiting for a friend to meet us for dinner. As we sat there, a sound from the Ring app on my iPhone went off, indicating that someone was at our front door. A quick tap on my iPhone screen and I was staring at a live video feed of the front of our house. Standing there was our friend. He had mistakenly thought he was supposed to meet us at our house instead of the restaurant. Via the Ring software, I was able to converse with him and tell him to head over to the restaurant ASAP.

My friend was incredulous. At first, he was sure I was joking and that I was really inside the house. I was eventually able to convince him that this was not a joke and I was truly waiting at the restaurant.

Even though I have had the Ring doorbell for several months now, I was almost as impressed with this technological magic as was my friend. Welcome to the future!

Want another example? Okay…

The battery for our electronic scale died the other day. It’s one of those flat watch-type batteries, a CR2032 to be specific. So, standing over the scale, without any digital device in my hand or pocket, I made a request: “Alexa, put CR2032 battery on the shopping list.” And that’s exactly what my Amazon Echo did. Later, when I was at our pharmacy, I opened the Echo app and checked its shopping list. Sure enough, the battery was listed there, allowing me to confirm that I was getting the correct size.

This is just one of an assortment of tasks — from checking news to getting weather updates to playing music — that you can do with the Echo. Although its range of tasks remains limited for now, its abilities keep growing. But what’s already amazing about the Echo is not what it can do, but how doing it makes you feel like you just landed in the middle of a science-fiction movie.

Speaking of science-fiction, merely answering a phone call on my Apple Watch would impress Dick Tracy. If he also saw how I can use it to view text messages or track directions to a destination, he would probably faint from shock.

Or how about the combination of my iPhone, Siri, Shazam and Apple Music? I can use Siri to ask Shazam to identify a song and then have Apple Music play it. As little as a decade ago, I could not have even imagined having such an ability in the palm of my hands.

It’s the Internet of Things. We are on the cusp of the next major step in the digital (r)evolution. And I believe it’s all about to explode. I may be one of the lucky few living in this particular future for the moment. But we’re all going to be there very soon.

For an expanded discussion of this topic, check out the MacVoices podcast I did with Chuck Joiner.


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