As Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the Christmas gift-buying season, I am pleased to share with you my "wish list" for the coming holiday season... These ideas are for the inventive among you. The rest will have to wait a while before these items are available, i.e., send cash.
- Voice recognition software. This will fundamentally change the way we interact with machines. "Computers" will be embedded in every device so that we can tell them what to do. N.b., the current state of the art of computer voice recognition is not satisfactory for my purposes. First, it does not do a good enough job recognizing words correctly (even with "training"), and second, it does not understand the meaning of words well enough to take proper actions.
- Home automation hardware and software. Let me monitor and control things in my house using TCP/IP and a browser-based application. I want to be comfortable and minimize energy consumption. I want to feel safe and secure. I want to know when things are not working right. I want to contain the dogs on my property.
- Networked home entertainment. Let each person in my family listen to their choice of recorded music, play video games, watch videos, go online, listen to the radio, watch TV, wake to music, etc. anywhere in my home. And let it be simple, using one monitor/screen per room, one set of speakers per room, one keyboard per room, one set of game controllers per room and one universal remote per person.
- Universal headset. I'll wear it all the time; at work, in the car, on the subway, and at home. I'll wear it to listen to recorded music or the radio, talk on the phone, or to converse with someone standing in front of me. I will be able to select my "focus" wearing the headset quickly and easily, without confusing or annoying the people around me. A good universal headset will be help make voice recognition a reality by reducing the effects of background noise.
In case you are wondering, Microsoft's long-awaited upgrade of their Windows operating system, called Vista, which is scheduled for release shortly after Christmas, is not on my wish list. I have been using a Beta copy of Vista at work. It is supposed to be more reliable and more secure than its predecessors. It is supposed to do a better job of interoperating with new devices and technologies. Unfortunately, however, the only changes I can see are cosmetic and not real, requiring me to learn new menus and new click-sequences to accomplish things I used to know how to do. I'm not convinced I need/want Vista yet. Of course, if you want to give me a new computer with Vista preloaded, I suppose I'd take it.