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Why Didn’t I Do Things Like This?

Posted by | Posted in Technology | Posted on 10-02-2009

On reading all of the morning bumf I get in my Inbox every day, one news article stood out: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense. How awesome would that be?

The article basically says that a bunch of awesome geeks in the US have developed a way to project real-time information about people, objects and places onto any number of surfaces. The information is accessed via the internet, curently through a web-enabled phone.

I think it’s a fantastic idea. The ability to look at a ringing telephone in your office and have the caller’s name projected onto it; or be able to look at various clothing items on a rack and have their measurments appear in front of you; would just be extremely useful. An example given in the article is that

When he encounters someone at a party, the system projects a cloud of words on the person’s body to provide more information about him — his blog URL, the name of his company, his likes and interests.

There’s no limit to the possibilities, assuming there’s some information on the net that’s available and relevant to whatever you’re doing at the time. Aside from being a useful tool for Joe Average Commoner, there are others who will benefit from having this kind of information to hand – and that’s the people who provide the information.

Off the top of my head, I would imagine that Wikipedia, Discogs, and the Internet Movie Database would be three websites that would benefit tremendously from a service such as this. Wikipedia is the single largest encyclopedia website on the net, with nearly 3 million articles written in around 20 languages. Discogs is the net-industry standard website for finding out information about musical releases of all genres. And IMDb is what anyone who’s anyone on the net uses to find information about films and television programmes. Imagine if every time you looked at cinema listings in a cinema, the IMDb rating, cast list, and film reviews for any given film popped up in front of you. Or if you were in a music shop, and you were shown reviews and the latest chart position of the single you happened to be holding. There are plenty of well-known websites that have become the first port of call for information on various topics, and it’s these sites that could benefit tremendously from the services developed by these MIT students.

As it stands, Google is the leader of internet search, and it’s where over 60 to 70% of people go to to find the information they’re looking for. So even if there isn’t a world-renowned website to give you all the information you ever wabted to know about bonzai trees, for example, the projection system could simply Google the term “bonzai tree” and show you a list of results. So even if there wasn’t a well-known information resource for the obscure item you’re looking at, you can still see a whole host of relevant information.

Of course, this just brings us one step closer to the information overload problem I mentioned a few weeks ago. Having all of this information readily accessible to us all 24/7 will eventually lead to the blurring of the lines between the real world and the cyber world (does anyone ever use that word any more?). It be only bad news, says I!

Oh, and on the subject of getting more spam than usual, I had a great email today that told me if I bought their product (whatever it was) that I would “surprise her with my Hulk”. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing…

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