Here Comes the Age of Magic

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Combine wearable tech with the Internet of Things and you have the Era of Magic, Scott Adams (Dilbert) suggests:

I would imagine that people have very specific walking and moving patterns. If you kill me and steal my five wearable tech devices they would eventually deduce by how you move that you are not me and the devices would shut off. That system only works if you have multiple wearable devices that are all synched, so again, more is better.

Having a paired watch and phone is great, but add a ring to the mix and your capabilities double. That’s because you need both a ring and a watch to detect the position of the user’s hand. And you need a ring for one-handed mouse-clicking in the air. Imagine walking to a crosswalk and doing the “halt” hand motion in the direction of traffic. Your ring and your watch can tell by their orientation to each other that you have formed that gesture and so they send a “pedestrian waiting” message to the street light. The lights change for you and you cross. It will feel like magic.

Or point at something in a vending machine and your watch and ring can detect which item you selected, charge your credit card, and send a code to release the item. To an observer it will seem that you pointed at an item and magic released it.

I also imagine that the rules of polite behavior will force wearers of tech glasses to signal what they are up to. For example, let’s say you can’t hear incoming phone calls unless you cup your hand to your ear. The ear bud and the ring would detect that they are in close proximity and release the audio. That way whoever is in the room with you knows you are focused on something remote. It’s more polite.

Likewise I imagine that in order to read something with your Internet-connected glasses you will have to make a gesture as if your hand is a piece of paper and you are reading it. The hand gesture tells observers you are paying attention to something on the Internet. Again you probably need both your watch and your ring to detect that gesture.


  1. Marc Pisco says:

    So when they block your credit card because you’re on vacation abroad (happened to a friend when we were in Tokyo) they can also shut off your phone so you can’t fix the problem.

    But wouldn’t it be a game changer if you could buy a Snickers without physically touching the button? Can your ring tell the machine to rock back and forth when the candy gets jammed?

  2. Marc Pisco says:

    Compared to FaceTime, or the fact that I’m typing this on a supercomputer the size of a pack of smokes and mysterious forces will distribute it to the entire globe in seconds, his “magic” is pretty weak sauce.

  3. Bill says:

    I’m already sick and tired of gesturing to inanimate machines to get what I want. I’m thinking in particular of trying to get water from faucets and paper to dry my hands in public restrooms.

    Douglas Adams made fun of the idea of gesture interfaces in his 1979 novel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

    “A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive–you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.”

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