As I stumble into the 21st century; cell phone charger wires dangling from my purse, a snake pit of wires coiled under my feet at my desk (last time I checked: Computer, phone, fax, speakers, cell phone charger, heater, printer, mouse base station and my Skype headphones), plugging and umplugging, tripping over them, plugging the wrong end, the wrong appliance, and who knows what else, I fantasize a wireless future. Of course one without brain cancer.
As I research the possibilities beyond my little Nokia, which I still haven’t programmed, I encounter a prediction from Hampton’s Magazine in 1908 . “The citizen of the wireless age will walk abroad with a receiving apparatus compactly arranged in his hat and tuned to that one of myriad vibrations by which he has chosen to be called….When that invention is perfected, we shall have a new series of daily miracles.” The magazine did not foresee men’s fedoras devolving into baseball caps. Other than that, it seems like a pretty prescient idea, down to the custom ringtone.
I decide to shop for this “new series of daily miracles” and discover that there is a whole new product line emerging that uses the word SMART. Smart coats, Smart homes, smart appliances. How cool is that? This could really make up for the dumbing down effect everyone is feeling. With a toaster that’s smarter than I am, I can just concentrate on watching Gilligan’s Island re-runs.
You can buy a smart coat that has built in solar panels and special pockets that will charge your cell phone, PDA (That’s Personal Digital Assistant for those still stuck in the 20th century), Ipod and more. That’s all? I want a smarter coat. When I put it on in the morning, it will tell me where I left my keys via a small transmitter in the lapel. Some clothes now contain GPS devices that allow you to track the wearer. I want a coat that can remind me of where I am! When I’m driving, and about to turn to go to my office, even though it’s Sunday, my smart coat will snort and say, “Wake up, Knucklehead, you were going hiking, remember?”
Actually, maybe the 1908 idea about the device being in my hat would be better. Then my lapses of consciousness might not be so obvious. When someone at the supermarket calls out my name, starts asking me about my husband, talks about her garden and clearly assumes that I know who she is, instead of me wildly tap dancing with inane generalities or coming right out and saying, “I feel so stupid, I’ve forgotten who you are,” my smart hat will buzz my head with a sub- cranial message: “It’s Marge, don’t you remember? You were on the same committee for two years,” and everything will fall into place and I’ll have a great conversation with Marge. Except for that constant little twitch…..
My smart hat could also be useful for my social faux pas. Imagine, just as I’m about to blurt out something like, “Wow, look at your face! Did you have work done?” BUZZZZZ ! My smart hat will shock me silly so I’ll just stand there smiling.
I recently saw an ad for a new hearing aid that is disguised to look like a BlueTooth device. It boasted that by wearing this sleek metal thing attached to their ear, people will look younger and sexier than by wearing a hearing aid. My smart hat would contain a cochlear device that mounts directly to my skull augmenting my hearing so that I can understand all the words in contemporary pop songs without having to ask teenagers to interpret.
Now that I’m on a roll, I think it’s time for some smart pants. My smart pants would grab me and whirl me around each time I head for the refrigerator. They would march me right out of Anthropologie before I succumb to another dress designed for 18 year olds. Hup two three four. At parties, with merely a push of a button or snap, my pants would expertly move my legs in the dance of my choice.
And if I just happened to overindulge at a party, my smart pants would use their secret, proprietary technology to goose step me in a straight line to my smart car, which will do a breathalyzer test on me and drive me home.
I imagine my clever clothes having a conversation after I turn out the lights. “Geez,” says the Hat, “I can’t imagine what she was thinking when she started talking to that 30 year old guy a the party. I mean, I can only do so much. All the zaps in the world wouldn’t take that silly grin off her face.”
“Huh, you think you had a tough time,” sniff the Pants. “Do you know what it’s like to motivate those thighs? When she programmed me for doing the merengue, I thought I’d get a hernia heaving those hips back and forth.”
“You can’t get a hernia,” comments the Coat.
“Well maybe if I did, she’d treat me better,” whine the Pants.
Maybe I’ll hold off on getting a smart house for now. It might succumb to stress.