Japanese ear cam is ahead of its time
An alert reader has informed me that all my time-machine trips to the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have irrevocably altered the course of human history.
Oh, well. It was only a matter of time.
On April 27, 2003, I returned from the future and, as usual, gave readers the inside scoop on several mind-blowing gadgets that await us years from now, including the Q-tip Cam, writing:
"Tired of the mundane early morning dig-and-look fishing expeditions that only fill you with soul-crushing uncertainty? Then get the Q-tip Cam and watch a cotton swab, with a tiny camera on its tip (MP3 player optional), not miss a spot via a wireless connection to your computer."
Someone was paying attention, because on April 24, 2006, exactly three years after my exclusive report, Gizmodo.com reported that the Japanese firm Rakuten had actually "invented" a consumer Ear Wax Camera/Cleaner way ahead of schedule and put it on the market -- a thin, lighted, antibacterial probe fitted with a camera that's attached via cable to a hand-held viewer. Coincidence?
Shame on you, Rakuten. More like Rip-off-kuten.
But as any theoretical physicist or "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" fan will point out, going back in time and introducing tech tools years before a civilization is ready for them is seriously dangerous stuff.
I don't have to tell you how different the world would be if the likes of Hitler, Mussolini or Rasputin had the power to peer deep into their own ear canals -- and then e-mail the results to each other on their BlackBerries -- but it wouldn't be a pretty picture. Especially Rasputin's.
So, when the chance came to take another time trek, I had some soul searching to do. What if someone else uses my report to backward-engineer a futuristic breakthrough before its time? How could I accept the responsibility? How could I live with myself? How could I get my cut?
Yet after much thought, I've decided to continue offering these rare glimpses into the future and trust you, the reader, to handle the information in a responsible way. So here's a bit of what I found out on my latest trip to the 2018 CES. Go ahead and read without fear. Just do me a favor, and don't post your ear canal videos on YouTube for another 11 years, when the world is ready for them:
Optical Insights: Everyone knows how embarrassing it can be to forget someone's name. At an inopportune time, it can cost you a sale, a promotion or even, in certain cultures, one of your top three best wives.
But thanks to radio ID tags that are now placed on every person in the world, wearing a pair of these Web-enabled contacts will allow you to see a readout of all pertinent biographical info hovering alongside anyone you come across.
Unfortunately, due to a spotty Net connection on the conference floor, a couple of volunteers kind of goofed up the demo when one said to the other, "Hi Steve. How's ... buffering, buffering ... your twin boys, Jacob and ... buffering, buffering ... Kaleb?"
» Next week: More 2018 gadgets.