Who doesn't love hypothesizing about our future flying cars or robotic housemaids? Or better yet, seeing an actual demo.
Tuesday's Research@Intel event trotted out the technology we might be using in the next 15 years. Like headlights that adapt to weather conditions. Ever notice that when it's raining, you can't see for toffee? Smart headlights use a high-speed camera and processor to predict the raindrop's location and then turn off the light in that precise spot so instead of seeing a reflection, you can see through the rain. As a San Franciscan, I was happy to hear the researchers are working on a separate technology that improves visibility in the fog.
"Life Without Keys" presented an interesting scenario. No need for passwords, or that janitor-sized ring of jingling keys; instead, you approach your front door and a camera scans your face, recognizes your voice and your gestures, and reads your handprint to decide whether you should be let inside the house. If someone approaches while you're not home, you can have the system notify you through your smartphone. Perhaps it's your trusted plumber -- you could unlock the door remotely. A delivery man could scan a package's QR code at your front door. The code containing details of the package contents is sent to you and you can sign for the package remotely. No more missed Zappos shipments. You with me, ladies?
Future-gazing is always a fun exercise. The tougher part is what follows. For researchers, it's actually building the thing we find so tantalizing. For the rest of us, it's waiting to see what materializes and what we ultimately end up writing off as vaporware.