May 1, 2014

Kindling Some Hot Fun, or How to Spark a Revolution

Hatched by Dafydd

By now, nearly everybody has played around with "e-paper," electronic paper, as in book readers like Amazon's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook. Without getting into the electronic weeds, very, very, very tiny charged beads, bubbles, or flakes -- black on one side and white on the other -- can be electromagnetically flipped or moved. Using this technique, these flips or moves can create a pattern, similar to the pixels you're looking at right now. (Only it looks a lot more like a printed book or magazine and less like a back-lit computer screen.)

The resolution isn't great, and I haven't seen any good color e-paper readers; but I'm sure high-resolution, full-color versions will be available in a few years.

Bear in mind, e-paper isn't really paper; it's just a clear material used to hold the microscopic beads in place, while still allowing you to see them. The material can be flexible and durable. At the moment, existing systems cannot change pixels as rapidly as can LEDs and other back-lit displays; but that's just an engineering detail. Fairly soon, I'm sure that ultra-fast, high-res, billion-color e-paper displays will be embedded into all kinds of products.

When that happens, I predict that manufacturers will swiftly realize the staggering potential: No longer will they have to make products (phones, toothbrushes, vases) in several different colors; customers will be able to program whatever color and pattern they choose. They can take over the creative task of "skinning," or coloring the outside, of virtually any product.

The buyer will pick up a "vanilla" phone (cell or home), for example, then program it to be Shockingly Pinko. Or Hi-Ho Silver. Or Tiger-Tiger In the Night. Easily bored or wishy-washy consumers could program their phones to change at an alarming rate, like a screensaver. It's all just electromagnetic pixels anyway! (And by that time, I'm sure the colors and images will be as vivid and smooth as the best magazine-quality ink-jets.

But wait, there's more: Why not skin a whole car? Get your Porsche SUV in any external variety you desire -- from standard colors like red or blue, to Psychedelic Joplin, to Naughty Nudies dancing across the side panels.

Cars could sport adverts, and maybe even get sponsored for a small fee. (Enough to pay for gasoline?)

But oh dear... what about the future of law enforcement? Imagine the coppers trying to track a fleeing suspect who can change his entire color scheme a hundred times a second. Ouch!

Would the police have to develop other methods of tracking a vehicle? It's likely that in the very near future, consumer products will be "tagged" by microscopic strands of DNA, making it very easy to prove who actually owns some item (and virtually impossible to crack, given the staggering number of potential DNA "codes"). Could the cops develop a method of reading such DNA tags from a distance? If so, they could track a car no matter what barrage of colors and patterns the crook uses in his getaway.

But if the police can track a criminal's car or a stolen car, what would stop them from tracking undesirables, dissidents, or critics of the government? In the technology war between tyranny and freedom, one side (aggressor or defender) is generally "up", while the other is comparatively "down." But in this case, it looks almost like a Bundy standoff.

Tim Leary once said, the only way to prevent government from discovering your secrets -- is to have no secrets. Whatever you believe, say, or do, do it upfront and unafraid, pledging your lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor.

But be prepared to stand your ground and defend your principles; nobody rides for free.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 1, 2014, at the time of 11:20 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: Beldar

I would argue that privacy has its own value even if you have nothing of which to be afraid or embarrassed were it to be compromised.

The above hissed in response by: Beldar [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 9, 2014 9:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Beldar:

Privacy has its own value even if you have nothing of which to be afraid or embarrassed.

Of course. But I was talking about secrets, not privacy. The two concepts are worlds apart.

My credit card numbers, biomarkers, and what Sachi and I do in bed fall under privacy: Everybody has such things with no taint of scandal or clandestine activity.

Being an illegal alien, or a deep-cover agent within al-Qaeda, or having murdered someone are all secrets... and with secrets, you must always be afraid that somebody will stumble upon them and either reveal them -- or use them for blackmail.

I meant the latter: Have no secrets; not, have no privacy.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2014 12:06 AM

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