This is Part II of this editorial. Part I should be read first.
A Day in the Life
So, once everyone has constant, high-speed access to the Internet, how will this change our lives?
Rather than a dry list of predictions, here’s what I think a typical day will be like in the life of an average guy. Let’s call him Bob.
First thing in the morning, Bob uses his handheld to check the traffic report. When he sees there’s been a big accident on the freeway, he asks his handheld for an alternate route. As he drives, verbal cues tell him when and where to turn. When a malfunctioning traffic signal ties up traffic ahead of him, he is routed around it without ever being aware of it.
On the drive, his handheld downloads his email and tells him who the messages are from. When Bob hears that one of them is from his boss, he asks that it be read aloud. It’s a question about this morning’s meeting with an important client. Bob quickly dictates a response and sends it back.
When he gets to the office, Bob goes to the conference room. When he puts his handheld down next to the desktop computer that’s in the room, his device’s hard drive instantly appears as a removable drive on the PC.
He opens the PowerPoint file that is stored on the handheld and gets ready to make his presentation.
After the meeting, Bob and his boss offer to take the client out to lunch. When the client says he’s in the mood for Ethiopian food, Bob quickly uses his handheld to find the nearest one, and to confirm that most other patrons liked it.
During lunch, the client asks a question that Bob doesn’t know the answer to, and he doesn’t have the file he needs on his handheld. He quickly links to his desktop PC and downloads what he needs.
After lunch, Bob heads off to his son’s Little League game. When his son isn’t on the field, Bob makes a couple of business calls and uses the voice-recognition capabilities of his handheld to work on a report he’s writing. He doesn’t feel uncomfortable doing this, as about half the people in the bleachers are doing the same thing.
After the game, Bob gets a call from his wife reminding him that he needs a new dress shirt, so he has his handheld direct him to the most convenient department store on his route.
He finds one he likes, but it’s made by a company he’s never heard of before. Bob uses the camera on his handheld to take a picture of the shirt’s bar code, and in a few seconds he’s told that most people who buy this company’s products are pleased with the quality.
His handheld also points out that this exact shirt is on sale for $5 less at a nearby store. Bob decides he doesn’t have time to go to another store, so he buys the shirt and heads home.
On the drive, there’s nothing interesting on the radio, so Bob uses his handheld to play a news program that’s being streamed over the Internet.
When dinner is over, Bob and his family easily download a pay-per-view movie on their TV and watch it.
After the movie, Bob puts his handheld next to his home PC and, again, it appears as a removable drive. This lets him finish up work on the report, and then Bob heads off to bed.
The Future Is Closer Than You Think
I’m convinced that everything I’ve just described in this scenario is completely plausible for one reason: I can already do most of it with today’s somewhat limited wireless networks.
I regularly use a handheld and GPS receiver to find my way around, and I read most of my email on my mobile device. There’s even some decent, albeit limited, voice recognition and text-to-speech software out there for handhelds.
The future is coming, and it’s going to be a wireless one.