Scanorama: Future is now

Here’s my column from the April issue of Scanorama. Happy landings!

You're the doc, Doc.

Back to the future

About ten years ago, I was a writer and editor in a magazine that was produced by one of the world’s leading mobile phone companies. I’m not naming names, but it’s based out of Stockholm, was founded by L.M. Ericsson, and then spun its mobile phones off to a joint venture with Sony.

One of the stories I remember best from that Ericsson magazine was about the smart home. The idea was that when everything was becoming Internet-based and connected, you’d be able to just call your house, and set it to a welcome mode – turn on the lights, the sauna, turn up the heat – or a fool-the-burglars setting.

Neat idea.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to write a piece about a new technology that enables you to open and shut your windows using a remote control, and even make settings for a welcome, fool-the-burglars, or vacation mode so that when you leave your house, the door locks itself, the windows get shut, and the temperature turned down.

Still a neat idea, and it’s slowly coming true.

Five years ago, I wrote a story about traveling to Finland using only mobile devices and the Internet to pay for things. We chose Finland because the Finns had applications we could use: I paid for my Pepsi calling a vending machine. Same for the car wash (a useful thing to all tourists). I bought a tram ticket via a text message, and surfed on the WAP (remember that) sites because 3G networks weren’t available – even though we had been writing about them for years.

I was in Finland last week. The vending machine is still there, and I paid my tram tickets by sending a text message to a service number. Not much has happened on that front, but to be fair, I was now checking my email on a phone that connected to the 3G network.

It’s finally here. Just like smart homes. Can’t keep a great idea down, I guess.

Sorry for losing faith.

How does that make you feel?