Interesting Uses of Technology

userpic=cyborgAs indicated in my previous post, staring at the collected links while eating my lunch identified two distinct themes. One was entertainment. The other (which is the subject of this post)  has to do with some interesting uses of technology:

  • Rack Em Stack Em. Parking your car can be a pain. If you are in a structure, you need to hunt for a space or pay an outrageous fee to a valet. Further, there is lots of wasted space in a parking structure to handle all those ramps. What if you could do away with that? Enter AutoParkit executive Christopher Alan. He has a plan for a fully automated valet parking structure: You pull into a garage. There, a television screen shows you pulling in and directs you into a loading bay. Once you are in the proper position it instructs you to shut off and exit your car. You then walk over to a HID (Human Interface Device) card reader where you “check in” electronically and answer questions like “did you leave a pet in the car?” or “did you close your doors?” Then you’re done. The system will go ahead and scan the loading bay to make sure you did not leave anyone in the car or leave any doors open. It will also turn you car 180 degrees so that when you retrieve your car you never have to reverse. The loading bar will park your car in a stall that no one has access to. When you are ready to leave, there is a little HID reader outside your complex or on your iPhone, so while you are waiting for the elevator it is retrieving your car. By the time you get down from the elevator your car is either there or almost there with no more than a 10 second wait. Cool.
  • Automated Tech Support. When you hear about automated tech support, you think endless phone menus that drive you crazy. Facebook has taken automated tech support for their employees in a different direction. Facebook has implemented a series of custom-made vending machines that dispense computer accessories instead of snacks and sodas. If a Facebook engineer spills coffee on their keyboard (a common mishap) they head to a nearby vending machine instead of hitting up their IT guy or just grabbing a replacement from a nearby cabinet. They swipe their badge, key in their selection and voila—a brand new keyboard drops down for them to take. This new system reduced the cost of managing replacement accessories by about 35%. While products found in the vending machines are free, items are clearly marked with price tags so employees can see the retail value of each accessory they take. The new vending machines also require all employees to swipe their badge before making a selection. That means each and every power cord, keyboard and screen wipe they take can be traced back to their name, ensuring that the system won’t be abused (at least not as much as the previous cabinet system was).
  • Starting Your Car. According to AAA, the car key will soon disappear… as will the electronic car fob… to be replaced by the smartphone. The auto club said Chevrolet and Nissan already have special mobile apps that can be used to monitor and control car functions. They anticipate more manufacturers will be moving to this model. I see many problems with this, but they potentially could be overcome. Of course, the biggest issue is — how do you handle valet parking?

One last tangentially related technological problem… Death. The question here is not how one uses technology to prevent death, but what do you do with social media accounts after someone dies. In Nevada, there’s a debate going on regarding the very subject. Legislators in Carson City have introduced a bill to give next of kin access to the deceased social media accounts, allowing the accounts to be shut down or remain functioning based on what the family wants. This way, people needn’t be reminded of dead friend’s birthdays, have them suggested for friending, or other equally creepy things. It also allows access to photo albums — increasingly important in this digital photo age.

Music: Sammy Davis Jr. Greatest Hits Volume 2 (Sammy Davis Jr.): “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone”


3 Replies to “Interesting Uses of Technology”

  1. Dan, NewsHour had an article yesterday about digital estates. Part of it described a Virginia’s father’s attempt to get access to his son’s Facebook info after the son’s totally unexpected suicide. Early in his talks with fb, someone told him that fb had a contractual relationship with the son. Who was 17 at death. Virginia too is debating a bill about digital estates.


    1. It’s an interesting question. I know Livejournal allowed people to designate accounts as “Memorial”, meaning they wouldn’t be deleted but no one could post to them, but with the increasing use of Facebook. There was also an interesting piece I listed to on a Planet Money podcast driving home about the liability issues surrounding driverless cars. Our laws are so behind our technology….

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