Technology Nirvana

Wednesday, July 30 2003

I have a Nokia 3650

mobile phone, which has all sorts of features. One of the most potentially powerful features is it’s Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth, for years now, has been touted as the nirvana of all things related to personal technology. It’s cheap ($5.00 typically), which means adding it to a device shouldn’t make the price of the device skyrocket, and allows for connecting all sorts of other Bluetooth devices to it without wires while taking advantage of low power consumption.

There are things like wireless headsets and wireless keyboards (hopefully coming soon, I could really benefit from one) and so far not much else out there. It’s not yet where it could so easily be.

I want to see Bluetooth wrist watches that are in constant sync with my Bluetooth phone. When my phone rings in my pocket, I want my watch to display the caller ID text. I want a Bluetooth hard drive, so I can just offload photos from my phone to the hard drive. I want stereo Bluetooth headphones. My Nokia 3650 can play MP3’s, but they sound like crap over the regular phone speaker. I want Bluetooth light switches, so that when I walk into a room with my Bluetooth wrist watch on, the lights turn on. And turn off when I leave. I want my car to adjust it’s climate control, seats and mirrors to suit me, via a profile on my Bluetooth phone/watch/keychain. I want a Bluetooth toothbrush that sends a reminder to my computer which then synchronizes with my phone to tell me when I should buy a new one. I want my toaster to trigger a pleasant little chime in my ear when the sourdough has crisped. Essentially, I want Bluetooth enabled everything.

And maybe Bluetooth isn’t up for the job, but certainly, there are alternatives. If it’s not Bluetooth, it can be some kind of WiFi device (make any Ethernet enabled device wireless), or whatever, but the point is that it’s possible. We have the technology, but no one is really truly innovating with it. Hardware developers are putting out hardware that’s just like everything else, and they’re using Bluetooth or WiFi as merely buzzwords, but not as a true ultra powerful features.

I think that possibly the reason why wireless technologies aren’t showing up in my toothbrushes and toaster ovens is because, and forgive me for stating the obvious, the technology is still young. It’s so young that wireless devices aren’t yet really easy to write code for, and hardware manufacturers are putting in the bare minimum of effort to keep the profits high. If wireless technology was as easy to implement and write code for as buttering bread, the world would be a different place (and I’d probably be out of a job).

You’d think with the decades that we’ve had to come up with proper programming languages that certainly we could come up with something that was so easy that nearly anyone could make use of it. Currently, writing Bluetooth, TCP/IP, or most other hardware/software code is out of the scope of most developers’ understanding. If we could jump that hurdle and come up with an “easy” (easy meaning easy for my Grandma) language with easy, simple, yet potentially powerful hardware, we could be in technology nirvana.