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Tomorrow's top techs

The day is not too far when a personal gadget will tell you if a fruit is clean enough to be consumed and menus will appear on every restaurant’s ‘table screens’. We take a look at some much-talked about future gadget concepts that promise to make your life simpler.

Kushan Mitra | Print Edition: May 18, 2008

Micro-projectors

Have a presentation on your laptop that you want to show your colleagues but can’t find a projector? So, you tell all your mates to huddle around your computer’s teeny-weeny screen, because you did buy a computer with a small screen (it was too sexy to look at).

Not only will your colleagues be unable to see the presentation or video clearly, make the huddle too tight and you could be in other forms of trouble.

But, fear not. Within the next year, you should see the first ‘microprojectors’ being developed by a host of small start-ups and also by established firms like Samsung and Nokia. This will initially come as small stand-alone pieces and, if the mobile and laptop companies are to be believed, will be embedded on cellphones and laptops before 2010.

People with loads of digital entertainment content on their phones and laptops should feel elated. Why watch movies on a small screen when a projector can give you a 100-inch display?

Empty white walls everywhere will soon get a lot more colourful.

Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) Screens

As if buying a flat-panel television was not complicated enough! Now, the industry is planning to throw us another bomb, promising that this is the best of the lot.

OLED, or Organic Light Emitting Diodes, take television engineering to another dimension because these actually allow a flat panel to be very flat.

We’re talking flatter than an anorexic model here, by the way. These panels will allow television sets to be mounted onto walls without hollowing out a hole.

But OLED promises a lot more than super-thin. The technology also addresses some of the flaws of existing Plasma and LCD panels— giving brighter colours, far lower power consumption and superfast response times.

The price factor hasn’t been worked out yet, but the world’s first OLED TV made by Sony (see photograph) costs an incredible 100,000 yen (Rs 38,500) and is only 11-inches wide.

Needless to say, it sold out within hours of its launch in Japan. Wait for the GenY OLED.

A Sensory Screen?

Multi-touch screens and built-in accelerometers that sense changes in direction are not enough for you anymore? The next generation of devices could well feature input devices that will use ‘force’ inputs.

That is, if you want to twist or turn an object on your device screen you ‘twist’ your device, without actually twisting it physically and the object on the screen will twist, turn, flip over whatever you ask of it. The idea is to take nonactive input surfaces and make them active input surfaces!

Surface Computing

Imagine walking in to your office with no keyboard, monitor or mouse on your table. No, this is not a scene from the 1980s. The table itself is your computer! It will be the same everywhere— at home, in restaurants and bars and even on walls. This is the future vision dreamed up by that visionary monopolist Bill Gates even as the company he founded delivered Vista, the most confounding piece of software ever made.

So, you will walk into a restaurant and the menu will be presented to you on your table, and because the computer will know what you are drinking, it might even offer to ‘pair’ food with that nice Chardonnay you’ve ordered.

Who needs sommeliers? Office and school rumour mills will spread into overdrive, you could literally type something on your table and ‘flick’ it to your colleague sitting across you or 5,000 km away. Well, let us wait for this day to arrive...

Near-field Communication

You must have tried to transfer a file from your mobile phone to your friend and suddenly discovered you can’t find his device. Or you try syncing your Bluetooth headset only to find out there is no connection. That is, of course, after you have managed to negotiate the confounding Bluetooth menu on your phone.

A new and emerging technology being researched by large European tech giants (including Philips and Nokia) promises to allow you to ‘sync’, that is, connect, two compatible devices by ‘tapping’ them together.

This technology will also allow your device to gather information from so-called ‘smart tag’ posters and advertisements. So, if you see an advertisement for a new food joint, which has a ‘smart tag’, you can download the number and the directions onto your phone, call it to make a reservation and use the voice-aided navigation on your device to find your way there. Sounds cool? You bet!

A Waterpowered Phone?

Operating by combining oxygen and hydrogen, fuel cells produce more energy than conventional sources of power, leaving pure water as the only ‘exhaust’. Samsung thinks that fuel cells can be made super small and fitted inside a mobile device. The company claims to have developed a system by which they can generate hydrogen by exposing water to metal (so you need not worry about your pocket becoming Hindenburg). One top-up of water can last you five days of average usage. This is a gadget we would most certainly love.

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