2018 tech toys offer escape from fiscal ills


POSTED: Monday, October 06, 2008

It's time to take another trip in my buddy's time machine to the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, to get a heads-up on what will be cutting edge in consumer tech a decade from now. Why now? Well, who can afford an actual trip in this time period?

Stock-Market Sky Dive: For thrill-seekers looking to up the adrenaline ante comes a new extreme sport that combines sky diving with online investing. After watching two short safety videos, one hosted by an experienced sky diver and the other by “;Mad Money”; host Jim Cramer, sky divers jump from a plane with a parachute strapped to their backs and a laptop strapped to their fronts. Rather than pulling a cord, the sky diver must successfully short-sell a stock or other financial instrument at a profit while in free fall to make his or her chute open.

Like all cutting-edge sports, this one sounds completely insane. But the startup's owners assured me that the whole experience is completely safe.

The emergency chute, which is FDIC insured, is guaranteed to open under 2,500 feet, as long as you're in the airspace of a country with a currency that doesn't collapse while you're in midair.

Planetco: I hoped I could escape present-day economic woes by jumping forward in a time machine, but no. I couldn't find a vending machine that doesn't first make you press “;yes”; to authorize a credit check. Still, at lunch time I was shocked to find the McDonald's Dollar Menu still completely intact—at least for everyone with “;Planetco”; memberships.

As a stranger in line explained to me with a tone usually reserved for the mentally challenged, Costco has turned the entire planet into a giant warehouse facility, providing savings year-round at all points of commercial exchange for those willing to pay a $5,000 annual fee.

While the upfront charge is significant, participation provides deep psychological benefits for consumers 365 days a year. It de-fangs auto dealers. It makes everyone think they're getting a deal on airfare. It keeps everything 99 cents at the 99-cent store. And thanks to a stranger taking pity on what he assumed was my chromosome-challenged DNA, it kept my No. 3 Value Meal under $8.

iRobot Political Operative 5000: While robots had made some inroads in the early 21st century, in 2008 many menial and often soul-crushing tasks were still being done by humans, from roadside cleanups to sewage repairs to the mindless regurgitation of cheap political points on cable news.

Thankfully, the company that made the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner famous unveiled its line of advocating automatons at the 2018 CES. The PO 5000 can fill countless hours of air time on shows like “;Hannity & Colmes”; and “;Countdown with Keith Olbermann”; as biased, blowhard pundits that will either predictably agree with the genius of the talk show host or make weak, idiotic and ineffectual counterarguments that serve to underscore the host's superior argument—all tasks proved to be beneath human dignity.

And, if you're not sure what you want your robotic advocate to advance on complex issues from gay marriage to abortion to Medicare, take advantage of the PO 5000's default “;Blame the Media for Everything”; setting.


Reach Star-Bulletin columnist Curt Brandao and subscribe to the free “;digitalslobpod”; podcast at digitalslob.com.