Plugged In: On the Leading Edge
Technology moves at the speed of light. Or so it seems. The rapid rate of research and development, not to mention deployment, of up-to-the-nanosecond consumer electronics makes it hard to keep up. But here are three technologies to keep your eyes on for the here and now.

Imagine having the visual data-processing center of the Terminator—displays of critical information that leave your hands free to do the work.

The first such application commercially out of the gate is the Microvision’s Nomad Expert Technician System. This easily worn headband (a clip-on-your-baseball-cap version is coming) with flip-down lens wirelessly patches into a data source and can display daylight-readable data (text, graphics) in the wearer’s field of vision, as well as capture images.

Nomad allows auto techs the ability to superimpose text and diagrams directly to where they work—under the hood.

We were impressed with the visual acuity and couldn’t help but imagine its use for surgeons, Hubble telescope repair astronauts, and anyone else who needs schematic help but also needs their hands free.

And we thought we were impressed with 40-gigabyte iPods. The software giant yet again beckons to revolutionize the way we use computers with its new innovation, the Portable Media Center (PMC).

PMC software allows you to store video, music and pictures and play it back anywhere with unbelievable ease.

The prototype models we saw featured an extremely watchable 3.5-inch LCD screen, rechargeable battery, built-in speaker, headphone jack, and AV outputs for attaching to your television.

But its user interface is where the buzz comes. The device acquires its content through your PC via a USB 2.0 cable, including television if your computer is enabled with a TV card. We’re talking about all of your music, family pictures and Daily Show reruns. Operation is easy, even to the point of syncing up music to a slide show of your favorite images.

Tired of dead spots in your cell coverage? Weary of no coverage when you need it most? Want to be wired in no matter where you are in the world? Look no further than the Iridium 9505.

Relying on 66 low earth-orbiting satellites, the 9505 is a heavy-duty phone with a large retractable antenna that seems to work no matter where you are, as long as you can point it at a tiny piece of sky.

You can send and receive phone calls and data transmissions with ease on its cell-phone-like interface. We took this deep into the woods where no normal radio frequencies dare to travel, and it worked flawlessly. The phone itself is fairly expensive, and airtime minutes can get spendy, but when you just can’t be out of range, it’s phenomenal.

Technophile Don Campbell lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo by Renata Kosina