Falcone's Crossroads

Where This Meets That

2020 Vision: The Changing World – the Road

Previous “2020 Vision”: The Home

After you seat yourself in your sedan, the seat automatically adjusts to your preferences. You press the ignition button that is mounted below the touchscreen console in the center of your steering wheel, and, sensing your “iPhone 2020” in your pocket, the engine starts and the garage door opens.  Drexel-X says, “Destination ‘City Park’ drive time 15 minutes. Confirm destination?”  You confirm, “Yes.”  Your garage door closes as you exit your driveway.

You don’t need Drexel-X to tell you it’s dreary out.  It starts to drizzle as soon as you’re on the road, which triggers sensors on your windshield that will automatically activate wipers according to the rate of rainfall. Fortunately this is just a passing gloom that will burn off within the next half hour.

Halfway to the park, Drexel-X informs you that there has been a bad traffic accident on your route.  Accidents aren’t nearly as common as they were only a few years ago; many cars possess GPS- and sensor-enhanced safety features.

These features supplement driver reaction times when stopping suddenly or merging into an occupied blind spot and even alert their drivers when dangerous drivers are approaching.  Unfortunately, alerts go so far in avoiding a dangerous driver, especially when they’re driving an older car; probably the case here.

Meanwhile, Drexel-X estimates the resulting delay, provides its recommended alternate route and estimates drive time before asking, “Confirm new route?”  You confirm, and it asks, “Use navigation?” You accept, and Drexel-X sends a quick automated notification to Jane of your brief delay.  Drexel-X then guides you on your way by projecting a three dimensional virtual route ahead of you on your windshield via a “head-up display” (HUD).

You can see a primitive example here:

Traffic is light along this route, so sensors at intersections keep the lights green for you; you hardly lose anytime at all.  You pull up along the curb at the park’s main plaza where Jane is waiting for you. The light rain suddenly gives way to sunlight, and Jane retracts her umbrella back into its cylindrical handle by a spring-loaded trigger.

You hop out to open the door for her.  Yes, despite touch-sensitive latches, you still have to manually open your car door (and, of course, since you and Jane are only beginning to date, you still have to open her door, as well).  After she is seated, the seat “senses” her preferences via her wireless device and automatically adjusts itself accordingly.

After a brief discussion involving her praising the color of your shirt, you and Jane decide to find a local coffee shop to go for some leisurely conversation.  “Drexel-X,” you query, “Display nearby coffee shops.”  Because you are parked, the local map is displayed by the HUD on your windshield. You navigate the map using your steering wheel touchscreen console, which works like a Bamboo tablet or similar tool today. The projected image on the HUD is proportional to the screen on your steering wheel, and the console is anchored in place horizontally regardless of wheel position, so you need never look at the touchscreen when operating the HUD with your fingertip.

You select one of the three Starbucks within a square mile radius, and Drexel-X guides your there.  While en route, you ask Drexel-X to assist you with your order. You and Jane simply tell it what you want, as you would a true Starbucks employee, and your coffee is ready right as you enter. All you have to do is pick it up, find a couple cozy seats, and sip away as you stare longingly (and unknowingly) into Jane’s artificially colored eyes.

Note: of course, behind the scenes are transparent computer transactions for payment, order validation, etc., that would be a little too boring to include here.

So, what do you think? Do you think this depiction is realistic just nine years from now? Too simplistic?

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This entry was posted on November 1, 2011 by in Crossing Guard, Philosophers' Row and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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