Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting


Trends in Time Management...July 2002

Welcome... Welcome... Please do come in. I am so glad you could join me for this month's column. As I told you when we spoke briefly by phone, this month I am going to write about how the latest developments in "wearable" electronics are improving everyone's productivity. As we delve into this topic, I think you will see that technology has just begun to scratch the surface of new opportunities. With further improvements in cell phones, PDA's, and portable computers with wireless modems, and the displays that we will use to interface with them, there will be no end to what we can do. Oh, sorry... but I am getting way ahead of my story.

Let's back up a little and begin with what we can already do today. But before I do that, would you like a cup of coffee or may I offer you something else? OK, well let me just take a moment to put a cup of tea in the microwave and then we will begin. Oh, excuse me, I hear my cell phone ringing. Let me just take this one call. OK, now where were we? Oh yes, the current capabilities of computers and communications are just the beginnings of what we will be able to do to improve on our abilities to keep in touch with our colleagues and various data bases. As you know, the present capabilities are rather rudimentary. We can communicate by voice and most of our laptop computers work with relatively slow modems... Excuse me, let me just get my tea.

Oh, by the way, I hope you don't mind if we continue this conversation as we drive to the airport. I promised Ernst that I would pick him up when he arrives on the 10:30 flight from Phoenix. But before we leave, let me just take a few minutes to check my e-mail and see if there is anything that is really urgent... Oh, please excuse me, I really do need to take care of this one e-mail that came in from England. It's almost the end of the day there and they are waiting for my response.

OK, let me just grab my cell phone and briefcase and we will be on our way. Well, as I was saying, our abilities to communicate information will grow dramatically over the next decade. The next major step will be that we will be able to connect to the internet through the cell phone network and those connections will become faster and more reliable. Of course, the voice channels will no longer drop calls as they do today. The quality and reliability will improve to the point that we will no longer have to think about them. Once in a while, it still impresses me that the traditional telephone system is now so good that it is often not possible to tell the difference between a local call and an international one.

Oh, by the way, do you mind if I make a quick stop at the computer store to pick up a printer cable? As long as we are out and about, it's a much better use of my time than making a special trip later on. Please wait, I'll be back in just one minute... Yes, Peter, I did send you that information by FAX. Perhaps you can check with your FAX operator to see if it has come in yet. Can I call you back later? I'm in a meeting with a colleague right now... OK, here we are. Sorry for the interruption. Peter was calling me to check on a FAX that I had sent him. Well, as I was saying, once a more reliable and higher capacity cell network comes on line, it will greatly expand our communications capability and, as a result, we will be able to make further dramatic increases in our productivity.

For example, consider the... Wow, look at that accident over there! And look at the traffic jam that it's created! I wonder what that person was thinking to make that stupid move? It sure seems that people don't pay attention when they are driving. I've learned that from my morning runs. I can never trust people to look when they pull out of their driveways or make turns at intersections. They are usually too distracted with a cell phone at their ear or music blasting from their 500-watt stereo systems.

Well, as I was saying, consider the possibilities of how we can make use of these new communications capabilities when they come on line. Consider the possibilities of having computer and communications power that is better adapted to carry around with us -- the concept of wearable electronics. We could, for example, have displays that are mounted for near-eye viewing. The conventional head-mounted ones that have their origins in military applications may not be the best way to do this. We may instead develop something that is easier to wear and that doesn't cause feelings of nausea. Perhaps the solution will be something that is a few inches from the eye and that allows for the user to still observe his or her surroundings.

Well, here we are at the airport. Let me just take care of parking the car and then we can continue our discussion. While I am doing that, I’ll just make a quick call to see if I have any messages that need immediate attention... Also, could you look up Ernst's cell phone number on my PDA here so we can see how his flight is doing? We can try to call him to see if his plane is on the ground yet. I'm sure he will have his cell phone on as soon as the wheels touch ground. Yes, yes, I know that it's against the rules to use a cell phone before the plane is at the gate and the door is open, but you and I both know that almost no one pays any attention to that minor detail.

There he is! Ernst, so good to see you. How was the flight? I agree that on Sundays it sure seems that there are more vacationers than on a typical weekday. However, with our busy schedules, today was the only day that I could arrange for us to meet. By the way, let me introduce you to my colleague Steve. Steve joined me this morning to participate in this month's column on how new developments in communications and display technology will improve our productivity and time utilization. Well, let's get going. I only have a few more hours before I need to participate in a conference call with a company in Korea. As you know, by then it will already be early Monday morning there and they want to get my inputs as soon as possible.

As I was telling Steve, we are just at the beginnings of a revolution in location-independent communications. I can hardly wait until the day when I can have an Internet viewer with me wherever I go -- positioned for instant access. Can you imagine how convenient it will be to be able to do e-mails during airplane trips and maybe even while driving using a heads-up display and voice activated word processor? Also, I'll be able to do useful work while standing in line at the bank or grocery store. And whereas today I can only work by telephone while watching my daughter's soccer game, soon we will also be able to do e-mails. Won't that be great!

By the way do either of you remember those ridiculous predictions that futurists were making not so many years ago about how we would have more leisure time and the work week would drop to 35 or even 30 hours? How did they think the business world would function under such a concept? How can anyone win in business without total dedication? Well, anyway, I love these new directions. I can't wait to get my hands on the next generation of computers and communications devices. Location-independent connectivity is what it's going to be all about.

Ernst, I hope you don't mind if I just drop you off at your hotel. I've got a couple more appointments to get in before my conference call. And Steve, I'm so glad you could join me today to participate in person in this month's column. As I told you when we made the appointment, Sunday is always a better day for these more contemplative topics because there aren't the interruptions that we all get on a typical workday. Well, it's been great talking to you both. Ernst, I'll call you later to see what we can set up for tomorrow. Bye...

Are you ready for the evolution of the 24/7 workweek? As the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for, for you may get it." There may be more to life than 24/7 business-related communications. Some time for peaceful contemplation may be even more important than getting in one more phone call. How do you plan to balance your work and relaxation time in a world where the two are becoming ever more intermixed? I would like to hear your thoughts -- that is if you are not too busy answering other e-mails and telephone calls. You can reach me by e-mail at Email, by telephone at 425-557-8850, by FAX at 425-557 8983, or by taking the seriously leisurely method of writing a letter addressed to 22513 SE 47th Place, Sammamish, WA 98075.