Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 9, 2012

Vasicek: Tech temptations can cut us off from others

Don’t allow new marvels be your masters

By Ed Vasicek
Guest columnist

— A friend and his wife recently began a small business. As they marketed their merch-andise, many preferred to pay by credit card. No problem; they swiped the cards in a little device that attached to their smartphones.

I personally enjoy anticipating new inventions on the horizon. Today, I would like to share a few of them with you.

In the recent movie, “The Three Stooges,” someone shows Curly an iPhone. Curly puts his eye up to the phone and complains, “It doesn’t work.” Curly had the right idea. Technology may soon be controlled by your eyes.

According to Eric Pfeiffer’s (“The Sideshow”) blog, “In the near future, we may be using our eyes to operate our Smart Phones and Tablets, even when it comes to playing popular games like Fruit Ninja.

“The technology works by projecting an infrared light from the computing device toward the user’s face. After calibrating with the user’s eye movements, the technology is then able to easily detect where a person’s eyes are moving, allowing the eyes to control a cursor.”

Let’s transition from eyes to limbs. Warsaw, Ind., has become the prosthetic capital of our nation. I have a friend who designs prosthetics specially designed for children. Most of us appreciate those who direct their energies toward advancing this important field. We may be seeing some dream-like advances soon.

According to TechNews Daily, “U.S. veterans and other prosthetic users may soon wield artificial hands, arms and legs as easily as they control their natural limbs. The most advanced prostheses tend to use ‘smart’ microprocessors that act as tiny brains to anticipate how a user will walk or move an arm. But both monkeys and humans have already used brain signals alone to control robotic arms and digital applications, which paves the way for new brain interfaces with artificial limbs. Such technology could then retrofit the latest prostheses to give users ultimate control over that ‘Luke Skywalker’ arm.”

Dick Tracy was famous when my parents were young; I remember the Dick Tracy TV cartoon show that aired in the early ’60s. Who could forget Mumbles? And who could forget Dick Tracy’s two-way wristwatch radio? Well, it is here. Not a radio, but something better: a wristwatch phone.

One version sells for less than $100 and is a watch, mobile telephone, plays MP3s and MP4s (including videos), and contains a camera. What seemed like an impossible fiction in the 1930s is no longer fiction. As a matter of fact, we now have what we could not even have imagined back then.

I am too tight to purchase the new technologies, but they do interest me. When the price drops enough, I may (or may not) enjoy some of them. My cousin, however, is eager and willing to fork over the cash. For example, he owns a 3-D television. Certain cable channels in the Chicago area offer 3-D movies and you can rent movies in 3-D.

Television technology continues to advance. According to Itechfuture, a new television/media system uses a clear glass screen. “The CLARO represents the latest innovation in TV and display technology combined with a visual design aesthetic to introduce the TV system of the future – a transparent glass TV and media system utilizing holographic technology. The Holoscreen is a revolutionary holographic film which displays any image fed through a projector at a specific angle on to a transparent display.”

The technological advances on the horizon are fascinating, but many of them glue us to our seats and preclude us pursuing other interests. The temptation to trash the things in life that really matter – like people and relationships – is a real one. Because many folks get swallowed up in technology, I predict the next boom will be treatment centers for the technologically addicted! The best balance means enjoying technology, but in moderation. The right balance will make technology our servant, not our master.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.