Internet Overload

The Internet is now in everything from cars and taxis to airports and malls. It’s crammed into cell phones and personal digital assistants. The Japanese wear the Net on their wrists, and the Koreans are putting it in refrigerators, washing machines and soon, microwaves. Yawn.

Okay, maybe my whites will come out whiter, but I don’t think the Net-enabled washer is going to go down in the books with, say, the discovery of fire.

Wake me when my refrigerator will whip up a steak and baked potato, set the table and tell bawdy fat jokes when I eat too much.

In other words, it isn’t what our geeks are doing, it’s what they’re not doing.

Mechanical Surveillance

The automobile, for example, could be a great place to exploit the power and intelligence of the Internet. Unfortunately, searching for restaurants and repair shops, which is about all you can do in a car now, hardly qualifies. A trained monkey with a phone book can do that from home.

Why don’t those techies put a computer in your car that gives you information you need, but have never been able to get before?

Example: You’re driving away from the repair shop. You’ve just shelled out $300 (US$) to a guy named Hank because of an obscure mechanical problem you didn’t understand. You don’t like it because it was just a week ago when you paid good money for a tune-up. What can you do?

Better Than the Better Business Bureau

You can turn on the dashboard mechanical diagnostic computer that’s wirelessly connected to every part of your car. The screen jumps to life and in big, red, blinking letters, says: “You’re getting screwed, buddy.”

After listing all the items for which you were ridiculously overcharged, the computer shows Hank, in clear, streaming video, sitting in an easy chair in the back office, sipping a Big Gulp and watching the baseball playoffs. There’s your $200 in labor.

Then you see Hank and some of the other boys at the shop leaning over your open hood and laughing, as Hank pulls wires and loosens screws from that tuneup a week before. The picture fades and shows you a list of mechanical malpractice attorneys, as well as a complimentary photo of Hank flirting with Thelma, the cashier.

Medical Diagnosis

Speaking of malpractice, why aren’t the Web geniuses working on an Internet doctor? It would look like an ordinary desktop computer, but with various medical instruments that could be attached, plug-and-play style, like thermometers, tongue depressors or stethoscopes.

Dr. HAL could draw blood and analyze it. It could take your pulse and determine your cholesterol level, even do CAT scans, MRIs and spinal examinations. It would take all this information, feed it into a central database organized by the best medical minds, and make a diagnosis.

No more endless waits in over-lit waiting rooms, sitting next to odd people suffering from who-knows-what grotesque illness, coughing and spewing their germs all over you, while just yards away, surrounded by ceiling-high stacks of money, the doctor sits, filing his nails and reading golf magazines.

Broadband for the Brain

Now, this last one may sound far-fetched, but if the latest advances in biotechnology mean anything at all, it should be a snap.

We know that living tissue is capable of hosting millions of circuits, and is currently being explored for that purpose when, at some definite point in the future, silicon becomes obsolete. So why not implant a wireless Internet connection in the brain?

Imagine America Online in your cerebral cortex. Yahoo! between your ears. News, sports scores and up to the minute stock quotes back there next to the memory of the prom date who threw up on your rented tuxedo.

E-mail your friends with the blink of an eye, literally. Carry your business and personal files with you wherever you go without the need of an expensive briefcase, just a headband. Never a broken connection; never a need to re-boot. Help hotline, 24/7.

Why isn’t anybody working on that?

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