I can't see as far into the future as I'd like. So I'd like ask the readers of my blog for some help. In reading recent news and just paying attention to tech in general, I've noticed a lot of interesting technology announcements and trends. I'm sure they're news to no one, but I just happened to think of them together for the first time, today. And it's clear that they're painting a clearer and clearer picture of the future. Or at least they're trying to.

  • McDonald's will be offering WiFi when you drop in for your 99 cent heart attack. Starbucks was first. One can only assume that others will follow suit. Who next? Bookstores? Gas stations? The waiting room of the doctor's office?
  • Intel and AMD have recently announced new CPUs. The big news? Low power--meaning longer batter life in laptops and smaller mobile devices. (I'm glad they've realized that speed isn't everything.)
  • Fuel cells are available for some laptops. Again, longer battery life.
  • Intel is pushing 802.11x in a big way, following Apple's lead.
  • Mobile phones are getting more sophisticated. Color. Cameras. Better data rates.
  • Sales of 802.11x equipment are still brisk.
  • Slowly but surely, Bluetooth is catching on too. (Thanks largely to Apple, again.)

I'm able to surmise that we'll soon (whenever that is) have devices that have Internet access more often than not. Our mobile devices will be on for much longer periods of time. This is all very good news.

But here's where it starts to get fuzzy.

What will we do with our newfound connectedness and battery life?

I don't know. Maybe we'll blog more. Maybe we'll be on IM systems even more than we already are. If only these new systems also had basic GPS capabilities, we'd have not only presence but location too. Imagine having a preference in your favorite messenger client that you could enable: Share my location with my friends. I think that'd be neat.

Does anyone make a little USB GPS dongle? Or maybe a bluetooth phone will be able to get my approximate location and share it with my computer?

Clearly there will be more applications. New ones. Stuff we're not doing today. What is it?

I'd like to know what people are thinking. What will our mobile, connected, applications of the not-too-distant future be? Is anyone building them now?

Posted by jzawodn at March 12, 2003 11:41 PM

Reader Comments
# jim said:

mabbe phone and IM will be integrated...you'd be always connected to people in your IM group and just need to press that button to start talking...instead of typing...

on March 13, 2003 12:29 AM
# pasha said:

if the WiFi or bluetooth hotspots have a physical location attached to them (something that the owner could easily configure the box to do), then you don't need the GPS. For example, your IM would say:

Jermey @ 123 Main St. Starbucks

on March 13, 2003 12:42 AM
# Gregory Williams said:

TrackBacks don't seem to be working.

"Ping 'http://jeremy.zawodny.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/543' failed: Need a TrackBack ID (tb_id)."

:( http://kasei.evilfunhouse.com/blog/archives/2003/03/13/glimpse_of_the_present.xpml

Ohhh... I like pasha's idea.

on March 13, 2003 01:23 AM
# Gerald said:

One more: The link named "Lots of random stuff to study" at the linux-mag is broken.

on March 13, 2003 02:36 AM
# gord said:

A friend told me about http://www.delorme.com/earthmate/ once. You might be interested.

on March 13, 2003 04:30 AM
# bryce said:

The earthmate looks like a pretty decent device, but the software is only for Windows. Does anybody know of good OSX mapping software?

Considering I have no sense of direction, I think this could be very handy for longer trips.

on March 13, 2003 06:12 AM
# Chris said:

I'd love to finally be able to broadcast my status over phones. Instead of dialing a number and hoping someones there (or not there as the case may be) I'd love for the freakin phone to have a status indicator. Its not like it would be hard to impliment, the capability has been there for years. Not like it would even take alot of bandwidth, just have the cell phone ping a central server (upon which your buddy list is stored or some such) every five to ten minutes and just download status packets.

Now THAT I would buy into. I personally dont really care that much about GPS indicators and what not. If I want someone to know where I am, I'll tell them.

on March 13, 2003 06:51 AM
# KnipSter said:

With mobile broadband access, I would hope to use my computing devices the same way I do at home or at work.

Americans are workaholics (myself included). As such, our movements are restricted to where we can perform our jobs. Telecommuting let some people do their work from home with the appropriate setup (56Kbps->ISDN->xDSL/CABLE->?).

Many of the "broadband" subscribers also spend a fair amount of discretionary time online. WiFi enabled us to leave our offices/desks and sit on the couch, the porch, the backyard.

If you want to see what mobile broadband brings (at least 1st generation) take a look at a college campus with WiFi coverage. You'll find people freed from the bonds of the CAT5 chain and playing/working where they are most comfortable (The Quad, The Libary, A Friends place, the cafeteria, the "john"?)

So yes, people will use IM/Email/Status, people will use GPS, but the existing Killer Apps simply become more valuable (exponentially so). Although I'm sure that some new ones will emerge.


PS. I used to earn for the ability to leave work early to play golf. But if I got paged, I'd have to leave to fix a problem. I would have loved to boot the laptop(palmtop) and correct the problem (if possible) from the course, better standards, better technology, better coverage should enable that. Now I don't have time to go play golf (but apparently enough to comment on blogs).

on March 13, 2003 07:07 AM
# Cesar Sandoval said:

ubiquitous computing/networking will not be restricted to laptops and handhelds. With CPU's with better WIFI capabilities, less power consuption, and smaller in size, soon these networking capabilities will expand to components we interface on a daily basis (gaspumps, table in a public restaurant, or toaster). Each component having their own IP address, of course - with IPv6 this will be possible. I read in a book that IPv6 has enough IP addresses available as there are atoms in the universe. The author went along to say that we will probably use them all up :)

This idea has been around for a while but I guess we are seeing the tip of that idea being a reality now. The MIT Oxygen project is working toward this goal.


on March 13, 2003 07:16 AM
# Adam Rice said:

Umm, is it a *good* thing that we'd be leaving electronic breadcrumb trails everywhere we went? We worry about privacy issues enough already. This is like inviting in privacy abuses.

on March 13, 2003 11:36 AM
# Ask Bjoern Hansen said:

Maybe our phones will switch to use the IP network (via 802.11x) instead of the cell phone network when possible.

The existing phone companies are so dead. Maybe governemt regulation will make it a slow death, but dead they are.

- ask

on March 13, 2003 11:55 AM
# jr conlin said:

Oh great. Yet more ways for me to get messages about breast enhancements, my boss to find out that I'm not at home sick, and a few more distractions for drivers. Yay.

Bradbury had the right idea.

on March 13, 2003 01:20 PM
# Joe Grossberg said:


In a similar vein, if you play anything at games.yahoo.com, it shows next to your IM name. Ever if you're using GAIM.

on March 13, 2003 02:01 PM
# John Dowdell said:

"What will we do with our newfound connectedness and battery life?"

I'm thinking we'll need more personalized filtering on the server to figure out exactly what to send to the device. The potential data flow will become vastly greater when everyone is a constant producer, so filtering, requests, and on-demand interfaces will be needed to manage it.

on March 13, 2003 04:47 PM
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