Voice-enabled ID chips will soon make our lives more efficient

September 03 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 1

By Dick Pelletier

You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic cart that recognizes you from your touch, toss in some bags and begin shopping. The monitor on your ‘smart cart’ displays products, price, and total amount spent; and even subtracts items returned to the shelf.

As you wind through the aisles, the cart’s voice recognizes products you’re running low on, and offers special discounts just for you. When finished shopping, simply tap a ‘chipped’ finger indicating payment preference and walk out the door – no more lines or grocery clerks to deal with. On exit, select an option to deactivate or encrypt all chips, which protects your privacy by preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.

After putting items away at home, the milk might say, “I expire in nine days, would you like a 24-hour reminder”, or the hat you purchased may say, “Hey Dick, why not wear me now, you know how great I make you look”.

By 2012, experts believe the above scenarios could be happening at stores everywhere.

Milwaukee futurist David Zach agrees that voice-enabled chips will increase efficiency. Clothes could remark, “Don’t wash me with colors”; cars may cry out, “I need oil”, and a glass might tell the bartender, “he’s had enough”.

Wearable computer maker Vocollect believes their voice-enabled machines can team up with RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips used to identify items, and create an enormous array of exciting applications.

RFID chips transmit information that identifies objects like food, drugs, clothing, cars, machines, and documents; even animals and people. Vocollect VP Larry Sweeney says, “Voice is good at directing people, while RFID is good at capturing data; together they make our lives more efficient”.

Voice-enabled ID chips are rapidly spreading to other industries too:

IBM’s GPS Speech-Enabled Web Applications for Mobile Phones enables commuters to ask “When will the next bus arrive?” Their cell phone then responds in a clear voice, “Waiting time 5 minutes.” College students can ask how many machines are available at the Laundromat before making the trip; when parking, people can ask if there are any empty spaces before entering the lot; and web users can tell the system to identify incoming emails, or opt to have newsletters and articles read while walking or driving.

• Correctional facilities in California, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota have installed RFID tracking systems to help reduce escapes. Last spring, Minnesota deployed a system at Lino Lakes that tracks the location of inmates 24/7. If a fight breaks out, guards quickly identify everyone involved. The system has already reduced disturbances.

• Chips implanted under the skin provide foolproof identity of who we are. Florida-based VeriChip makes an FDA-approved chip the size of a grain of rice that keeps Alzheimer’s patients and children from getting lost and prevents abductions of newborns from hospitals.

Future systems will start cars, unlock doors, and when connected to ‘glasses-cams’, will identify people we meet on the street. By 2020, these electronic marvels will provide genetic information to doctors and monitor our well being.

ID chips and voice recognition systems promise to revolutionize shopping experiences and provide an amazing “magical future” for our enjoyment.

This article will appear in various print media and blogs; comments welcome. See other published work by Dick at http://www.positivefuturist.com and click on the “published work” tab.

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Comment Thread (3 Responses)

  1. It’s things like this, Dick, that make me scared of the future. I know you’re really old, and probably scared of dying, and so willing to accept any technology, no matter how invasive and destructive of privacy, so long as the biotech and then nanotech bridges will let you “live long enough to live forever.”

    A lot of people I know refuse to pay for food with a credit card, and even in economically tough times won’t use the discount cards that supermarkets give to regular customers. Why? Because 30 years from now insurance companies will have all that data and say “well, your rates are going up because you ate insanely unhealthy food at the turn of the millennium.”

    I mean, RFID won’t make you healthier, smarter, or stronger. At best it will make you have to remember less, and make you more easily trackable. Besides, why couldn’t the whole store be RFID’d and then you pay with your fingerprint? No encryption necessary, no erosion of privacy…

    As someone who was born in the 80s and will probably actually get to see the future, I want to ask you to stop scaring even sympathetic Singularitarians… and by that I mean STOP WRITING.

    Posted by: Bogey156   September 04, 2008
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  2. If there was a bar that had a glass that said “he’s had enough” I think I might fire-bomb the place.

    Although it may be convenient to have products that know when they need servicing or fridges that keep you updated on the shelf-life of products, can’t we have a future where we’re not coddled our whole lives?

    Posted by: martymcfly   September 04, 2008
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  3. I was in the Peace Corps, Niger, and I have to say those are some of the happiest people in the world. No worries except food, no bills, no technology. Granted, they live in the stone age and I’d pick the US over there any day, but if the world hits the crapper and all our electronics die on us, how are we to survive? The world could disintegrate and yet they could still go about their normal lives. Here, people would go nuts. Who knows how to grow their own food? Wash their clothes by hand? Are fit enough to walk everywhere?

    As the mass of urban people move back to the mid-west, land there would sky-rocket making former blue-collar workers into hand-laborers. Imagine that.

    Posted by: John Heylin   September 04, 2008
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