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Why the Future of the Computer Is Everywhere, All the Time

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In the ambient world, the technology is all around us, unseeable and untouchable.

Credit: Daniel Hertzberg

Imagine this scenario in the not-too-distant future. You're awakened at 6:11 a.m. by the gentle sounds of tinkling bells and birdsong, even though you live in a 12th-floor apartment. Your alarm clock uses radar to track your breathing, and wakes you gently, with sound and light, when it detects you're in a lighter phase of sleep.

Your transition to wakefulness triggers a cascade of changes in your apartment. Your window shades open automatically. In the kitchen, coffee starts brewing. As you pad into the bathroom to brush your teeth, a display projected onto the mirror above the sink shows your calendar for the day. It highlights what time you'll have to leave to get to your office for the in-person meeting you scheduled for 8:30.

Returning to your bedroom, you find your stowaway robotic bed has retracted into the ceiling, and your collapsible walk-in closet has expanded to reveal your clothes and a full-length mirror. The mirror suggests, based on your schedule and the weather, an outfit it displays as an augmented-reality overlay that moves with your body as you inspect yourself. You aren't fond of the first option, so you make a swipe-left gesture in the air. The mirror responds by suggesting another outfit. You signal assent, and the two drawers containing the items you want glow around their edges, so you don't have to waste time hunting for them.

From The Wall Street Journal
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