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The future is here, some assembly required

The future is here, some assembly required


Don't blink or you'll miss it

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Technology moves fast. So fast, in fact, that it’s easy to take it for granted. Smartphones, which have been around for a decade or more, are so ubiquitous and such an integral part of our daily lives that it’s easy to forget just how advanced they really are. New products, like wearables, are almost always billed as something bigger and better than their reality.

Things like streaming services, social networks, smartphones, tablets, and voice control are all commonplace now, and not even particularly interesting at this point. But look back as little as five or 10 years, before most of these things existed, and you can see how technology has dramatically transformed the way we go about our daily lives.

In my role as an evaluator of new technologies and products, I think about this a lot. It’s easy to get bored with smartphones — trust me, as I look at my desk right now, there are half a dozen phones on with with negligible differences between them. But that shouldn't diminish just how revolutionary they are.

The thing is, if you step back and take stock of all of the gadgets and technology that you already have and use, you can see the future right in front of you. Put it together right and your day might look something like this:

A day in the life of tomorrow

That's a really typical, ordinary day in my life. None of it involves inaccessible things or an abundance of complexity. It's just fairly common, off-the-shelf products that are working together to be greater than the sum of their parts. Just a few years ago, to live a life like this, you had to be Bill Gates, willing to spend untold sums of money on custom components. Now anyone can do it.

Granted, my career compels me to integrate tech into my life as much as I can, but nothing here is so out of the ordinary that it would be difficult for someone of my age and background to build a similar experience. And not all of this is new, either: some of us have been using smartphones for 10 years or more; cars have had remote starters for decades. This also isn’t to say that there isn’t room for even more advancements and improvements — as it is, I’m charging almost half a dozen different devices every day, not to mention maintaining the software and services across them. And the dream comes crashing back to reality awfully quickly when voice commands fail or I lose internet connectivity.

But when it’s all put together and works, it paints a picture of the futuristic life that’s being lived right now, today, in many parts of the world. Just five years ago, things were wildly different. Five years before that and my routine would be almost unrecognizable.

Ten years ago, my routine would be unrecognizable

The next time you’re bored with your phone, or tired of hearing about the latest wearable, or fed up with whatever device you’re trying to command with your voice not responding, perhaps it’s worth taking stock of just how much things have changed in such a short time.

And remember, there’s always tomorrow to look forward to.