Monday, August 29, 2011

Problems with Technology

So, I’m having some technology issues.

I don’t mean that I’m having problems with my personal technology. I’m talking about in the Sci-Fi book I’m currently writing. It’s set in some nebulous future where space flight is pretty common. It’s main character is a teenage girl. And I wanted the technology to reflect the kind of social networking that teenagers do in modern society. Only, you know, sci-fi it up a little.

The problem I’m having, however, is that current cell-phone technology is pretty sci-fi all ready. I mean, think about it. You probably have in your pocket right now a phone that is every bit as powerful, if not more so, than the desktop I am currently using to write this blog post on. You can not only talk to other phones from it, but you can also surf the internet, use it as a GPS unit, connect with Facebook, Twitter and Google+, play video games, view movies and TV and even us it as a calculator to figure out how much of a tip to leave at that restaurant you went to last night. And none of this includes instant messaging or texting. And all without being plugged into the wall. The number of things a phone can do these days is impressive.

And the number of ways a teenager uses it to keep in touch with people is also impressive. Not that any of this is limited to teenagers, mind. It’s just that my main character is a teen, and so I’m trying to think in those terms.

Most teens that have cell phones these days are in almost constant contact with each other. Texting and updating their social network status’s are just part of it, I’m sure.

So, here’s the issue I am having. What will this kind of interaction look like in, say, one hundred years?

Right now, in my book, everyone has what basically amounts to a tablet, a high-tech iPad with a holographic interface. From it, they can connect to the net, communicate with people via holographic video chats, etc.

However, the tablet seems a little bukly to me, in light of current cell technology.

But, I run into problems if I try to make it all smaller. So far, my best thought is to have something similar to a Bluetooth, handsfree set in your ear. From there, a holographic display appears in front of you that you can manipulate with your hands (like in Minority Report). It would be mostly clear so it doesn’t interfear with your vision. It works basically like a personal computer, maybe even with some kind of AI in it.

I like this idea, but I still fear that it’s not all that advanced. Maybe I’m just being paranoid.

It would take some re-writing to make this idea work, but I like it better than the tablet approach I’m using now.

For now, I’m going to keep writing as if the tablet approach is the final decision until I figure out where I want to go.

In the mean time, I would love to hear from you about your ideas and tips for handling technology limitations in sci-fi stories.

1 comment:

  1. I like the holographic idea, especially with the AI. I would think that making the AI interactive, with a personality of sorts would be cool. Something akin to the Holographic Doctor in Voyager.

    I'm not sure if it would fit into the "history" of your setting, but you could put an event in there that essentially created a temporary "dark" age" wherein some technological advancements were stifled for several years. Maybe even turned backwards. That would allow you to have your date still be 100 years from now, but the tech might be just a little more advanced than what we have now.