January 3, 2018

A Magical Yuletide

I was enamored of three particular items that entered our house in and around Christmas. In each case they were magical, transformative, and point to a brighter future.

First up was the Philips Hue lightbulb I picked up as an impulse buy at Best Buy. The bulb promises 16 million colors and 0-820 lumens. With the follow on acquisition of a Zigbee hub by Philips from Amazon, we were ready to set it up. My daughter got it going in minutes, and soon had a light show going on in her room. One moment, a tropical sun, the next an arctic moon. Next is the connection to an Echo Dot. This is the best evidence of technology you didn’t know you needed. It is now a race to get the rest of the house set up. Dimmer switches just seem so, you know, dim, now.

Next up was my son’s 3D printer. We chose a QIDI printer¬†without really knowing too much about it. Dual extrusion seemed cool. Meanwhile my son went nuts with it. After running the test block (which took an inconvenient 18 hours) he proceeded to print:

  • A contact lens case
  • A llama
  • A toothpaste tube squeezer
  • A USB stick holder

in the span of a day or two. If you can draw it, you can print it. Or even if you can take a few pictures of it. It does not seem like a long leap from here to when you will just buy a design license and make most things at home. Amazon will deliver filament and not much else. Even in the hands of a child it is quite magical.

Finally, I had the opportunity to take a longer drive in my wife’s 2015 Volvo XC70 that we got in November. In addition to a lane departure warning, blind spot detector, and heated seats, the wagon has adaptive cruise control. Setting it to 75 on a drive from Denver to Edwards, Colorado I touched the brake once. You can dial in how close you want to be to traffic in front of you, and the wagon takes care of the rest. Again, it is quite a magical feeling the car smoothly accelerate to the set speed as traffic clears away or one changes lanes, or to feel the wagon slow as traffic encroaches. It is quite easy to see the autonomous vehicle of the near future, and how it will be so much safer.

Technology should at once do what you expect, and do it so well it feels magical. These items hit that mark.

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