Dan Rattiner's Stories

The Next Big Thing: iWatch, Self-Driving Cars, Elmer’s Glue

They announced the new Apple Watch a few weeks ago, and it is being touted as the Next Big Thing. A review of it appeared in The New York Times on April 8, written by their tech writer Farhad Manjoo. He writes it is definitely The Next Big Thing, but he’s kind of hesitant about it. Maybe it isn’t. He worked with it for three days and couldn’t come to that conclusion, but then on the fourth day, he realized, well, dammit, it is. As an example, he says that you can get all these different ringtones to vibrate on your wrist, one for breaking news, one for your wife calling, one for the arrival of a gift and so forth and so on. So that’s good. This has never been done before with something attached to your body.

Well, yes it has. I keep my iPhone in the breast pocket of my shirt, the ringer off, the vibrator on, and get the exact same thing. I don’t know many other people who do this. I agree, in your breast pocket, it is sort of a terrible fashion statement. Sometimes it just all lights up in there, an expression of love, for example, to a girl who at that moment, by coincidence, might be just smiling at me from afar. I also agree my breast pocket iPhone decision is probably good for men only and maybe for flat chested women. So I suppose the Apple Watch is great for robust women. Next Big Thing for Them, anyway, as long as they are techie women willing to fight for it for four days.

On the other hand, I think there ARE going to be three actual Next Big Things coming right up. All of them will be introduced to the public this year.

The first is going to be a revolutionary new non-stick coating for plastic jars and bottles. It’s applied to the inside of them, and when it is bonded in there and you turn it upside down to get the last of the contents out, IT WILL ALL COME OUT. On a see through ketchup bottle, for example, the bottle will look absolutely new when you are done with it. Nothing will be left inside.

This coating could first be found inside Elmer’s Glue, if the company starts using it this way. They have a licensing deal to explore the coating for “innovative new products.” The company producing the coating is LiquiGlide. And they are in negotiations with liquid soap manufacturers, jelly companies, yogurt companies, mayonnaise companies, ketchup companies—the list is almost endless.

Sometime soon everything you turn upside down to tap on the bottom, or leave rightside up but try to spoon out, will have this coating. It is harmless. It is fused into and is then part of the bottle. Everyone will use it.

Not having to throw away bottles with stuff still in them is an amazing advance for the consumer. It’s been shown that just about anything you buy today where stuff stays in when “empty” still has in it 15 percent of it.

It will be good if this changeover takes place gradually. If it takes place all at once, it could throw the country into a Depression. All of a sudden, the amount of manufactured goos, creams and foods will exceed demand by that 15 percent. Shoppers will be going out for more of it 15 percent less often. The factories that bottle it will shut down, at least temporarily. People will be furloughed out of work for that period of time. In the end, however, this is great. It’s clean, thorough, great for the environment, safe, germ free and not messy. The Next Big Thing.

The second Next Big Thing that will make news this coming year is Virtual Reality. Both Google and Facebook are planning to introduce it. In tests, those who have tried it say it is sensational, an incredible experience. In present day 3D movies, you sit in a movie theatre and watch herds of elephants run by in three dimensions. I have not tried Virtual Reality, but those who have tell me it is like you are in the middle of this experience yourself, not sitting in a chair watching it, and if you poke the back end of an elephant with your finger—actually moving your finger in real life—the 3D elephant will turn its head to see who is doing this. And then he might snort and not like it.

Downside? I can’t think of much, except it might have a major effect on the travel industry. Want to bathe in the Ganges River with the locals, go right ahead. Just put on your goggles and you’re there. Who needs to go to India anyway?

The third big thing is going to be cars that drive themselves. We’ve already had cars that have Cruise Control, which is a success, and we’ve already had cars that have the ability to park themselves in a parking space, which has not been a success. But now, Elon Musk, the founder of the Tesla Motor Company, says he has already had engineers sit quietly while one of his cars takes you from San Francisco to Seattle. It’s only on main roads just now, but it’s coming. His cars will be set up to keep their distance from other vehicles. There will be no accidents. And you can set it up earlier in the day to show up where you are at work and take you home. No hands on the steering wheel. Or you can even set things up on the spot, using a remote to do the programming. It’s great!

Tesla only makes a small number of cars. But if this is successful, it will be immediately jumped on by Ford and GM and Toyota and Mercedes. Soon cars all over the world will be self-drive cars. They will, by definition, get you from here to there safely, not hit and miss safely with a human driver at the wheel who may or not be drunk, impaired, depressed, giggling or overmedicated.

Some say there is a legal problem to this. If a car run by robotics hits someone, who’s to blame? Can’t be the robot. Well, if you program “go straight there, turning neither left or right,” it’s your fault.

It has always amazed me that every single person in the United States takes for granted that it is perfectly normal for 30,000 people in motorcars on the roads of this country every year to get killed in automobile accidents.

If self-drive cars are a success, do you realize what this means? At a certain point, cars without this feature will be banned from the roads. At a certain point, cars with this feature will only be allowed to be operated by their computers. Motorists inside the cars caught driving will be prosecuted. They will be prosecuted for endangering others. The number of people whose lives will be saved will be enormous.

As for the Next Big Thing after that, I think all that is left is the discovery there are other creatures on other planets in outer space we could meet. At the present time, scientists are debating to change their approach from simply searching for a planet like ours to aggressively sending messages to them. So many planets like ours have been found that some scientists fear if we reach out rather than just observe, we might be getting ourselves into a hornet’s nest of deep trouble. It is so much better just to lurk off to one side. Others, however, want to surge ahead. What wonders the future holds.

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