A world made of cuttlefish

Amazing cuttlefish camoflage The cuttlefish is a truly amazing creature. Its entire skin surface is covered with chromatophores, which make it able to blend in to its environment with incredible precision. Some cuttlefish can actually create mesmerizing moving patterns on their skin, making them look like floating animated scoreboards out of some science fiction film.

Now HP has demonstrated a technology that duplicates this incredible trait: e-paper. It’s a thin, flexible sheet of plastic that can be cheaply produced and attached to nearly any surface, displaying up to 125 colors in a bistable passive matrix. This means the technology doesn’t use much energy, and it doesn’t get more expensive as it grows in size — unlike, say, plasma TVs, which become prohibitively expensive and energy-hogging at large sizes.

Imagine living in a world where nearly everything could be covered in HP’s e-paper. You wouldn’t put your monitor on your desk, your desk would BE your monitor. You could put family pictures in one corner, a “window” with a spectacular video display of the Grand Canyon or Victoria Falls in the other, and spread your work out over the rest of the space. Or you could put that “window” up on the wall, or even wallpaper your entire room with it, so your office could become the summit of Mount Everest, or the Board Room from The Apprentice.

The same could go for your kitchen, where you could play a cooking video on the surface of your counter while you make creme brulee, as tall sequoias sway in the breeze “outside.”

When you drive to work, the car in front of you could be programmed to display a dynamic ad customized for you based on the make of car you drove, or even address you personally after determining your identity from your license plate. While you’re shopping, ads could be automatically generated on your shopping cart based on its contents. They could even show up on the floor as you walk over it, or on the food packaging itself.

There would be no need to carry a computer or a phone or even a novel with you anywhere, because everything would be all those things: the back of the seat in front of you on the bus, the bench in the park, even the wall along the sidewalk. All you’d have to do is tap on the nearest surface and log in to your own personal computer account, where all your documents, ebooks, and software would instantly be available.

In just a few years’ time, the technology will be available to turn the entire world into a cuttlefish. The technology is ready for you. The real question is, are you ready for this technology?

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9 Responses to A world made of cuttlefish

  1. powermac666 (MR member) says:

    Good read, couldn’t agree more. It is very exciting to think about how different our world will be in the next decade or so. All of these maturing technologies will converge in ways we can’t imagine yet. Ideas we would have considered far-fetched just 5 years ago are now on the verge of reality. I must say that the thing that concerns me the most is the thought of all these massive databases out there containg more and more info on our lives, and the inherent and obvious security issues to be overcome.

  2. dave says:

    You’re spot on, Powermac. Security issues, privacy issues, copyright issues, public safety issues, morality issues, lifestyle issues, a vast array of them are headed our way. The truly scary thing is that the framework for all this is being set now, before we understand how huge its impact will be. Microsoft is developing an operating system, legal precedents are being made, technology standards are being set. I think the technology is moving much faster than our culture and our legal system can adapt.

    Who knew that spam would be such an issue when e-mail was being developed? Which of the issues I mention above will be the most important when all is said and done? Or will the technology itself bring new issues to rise?

  3. ugg says:

    Yeah, we never know what’s around the corner until we turn it. I’ve always felt that until the display/power/battery issues are resolved we’ll never be able to tap the full potential of technology. It looks like HP is almost there with their paperless paper. I love the concept of e-books but the options available today just don’t cut it for me, hopefully this will be what does it. Of course that now allows the world to know what and when and where I read, I’m not so sure I like that idea.

  4. bob says:

    of course Im not ready for that technology.
    most of us were not ready for any technology.
    we ust pretend like were savvy.

  5. bob says:

    and this is why it is my goal to go live as far
    from this crap as possible

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