What if your bicycle helmet could read your mind and send out a turn signal? What if that same helmet could also glow, say, yellow when you’re feeling confused? What if you were watching soccer on television, and your TV set could tell you that 15 other young people are watching the same soccer game, and that right after the game, you are invited to join them at the nearby park? Believe it or not, over at the MIT Media Lab, they’re thinking about these very concepts. From smart billboards that personalize displays according to audience, to smart kiosks at conferences that can connect attendees according to shared interests, all are under consideration at the MIT Media Lab.
One of the more interesting ideas being tossed around at the MIT Media Lab is called the “Proverbial Wallet.” It’s not really a proverb, but it could be a wallet. The idea is for the proverbial wallet to be a smart device, connected to your financial data. When you’re shopping, the wallet decides what your current fiscal condition is and it either opens very slowly or a bit faster. A slow-opening wallet says, your funds are running short and maybe you ought not to be shopping for that Rolex right now. Conversely, an easy-to-open wallet says, shop till you drop because you really can afford it.
The idea here is that technology should be intuitive and it should exist in the places where it is more likely to be used. In the proverbial wallet example, the thought is that while a person’s financial information might be available in an app on a smartphone or other device, the proverbial wallet presents it in a way that is more useful. Much of this thought is being led by MIT Media Lab’s chief knowledge officer, Henry Holtzman who is convinced that technology needs to evolve to the point where humans don’t need to be trained to use it, but rather that it should be designed to serve humans seamlessly.