From Bell’s simple telephone to Marconi’s radio, the technology afforded us today and the promised gadgets of tomorrow are blending into a much easier, more streamlined tool to connect us all on a global scale. Bringing us closer and keeping us globally informed in an age of smaller, more convenient interactive tools brings to mind a meld of science and humanity on a scale never before seen. With Microsoft’s Surface tabletop, users can enjoy sharing items such as photos, games, music, assorted files and other digital media. Whereas current users are hobbled by single hand use and often tied to a smaller or limited screen capacity, Surface allows many users to indulge in the activity at once with on-screen touch and gestures while enjoying the freedom from secondary tools. This provides for a more comfortable, streamlined interactive experience.
The Kiss Communicator by IDEO allows users to “kiss” a distant loved one from anywhere in the world. With a simple puff of air and a light squeeze, the Kiss reaches across the miles to send a quiet message of contact and affection. While both parties hold their Kiss devices, one user can send this affectionate message while the other’s device signals the user with a gentle sequence of lights. Although still in prototype phase as of 2008, the Kiss Communicator could replace the cumbersome activity of texting a small message of affection with a simple “peck” in the palm of the hand.
Also in prototype phase, the Whereabouts Clock by Microsoft seeks to help families stay in touch while away from home. Using cell phone data, this piece sends an SMS message from the member’s cell phone to the clock at home. Zones such as school, work, mall or home, can be registered into the Whereabouts Clock at the time its programming is downloaded and are applied to the clock’s face in segmented areas. As each user’s cell phone is activated, the clock and cell phones synch in real time to register the locations of each user. As each family member moves, so does their personal avatar or photo on the clock. With its text messaging screen, the Whereabouts Clock affords busy families with the choice of a more detailed communication experience.
These devices, as Bell’s phone and Marconi’s radio, use advanced technologies to create faster, more convenient and user friendly tools to bridge the tangible distances across our global plain.