Enchanted Objects
By David Rose



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“Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, Pg. 273

1. How do you feel about the concept of “Enchanted Objects”? I.e., as per Rose: a new way for human beings to interact with technology without requiring a new set of skills or constantly needing to learn new languages, gestures, icons, color codes, or button combinations.

2. How does this compare to or differ from the idea of a computer-controlled world? Think as Rose does with “HAL” from Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001 Space Odyssey.

3. Are you afraid or excited about what you did or did not know already existed and the future of technology that Rose presents in this book?

4. Rose mentions on pg. 7 that the smartphone is a “confusing and feature-crammed techno-version of the Swiss Army knife”. Do you feel the same? Has technology gotten ahead of you?

5. Rose also writes that the smartphone is a “jealous companion, turning us into blue-faced zombies, as we incessantly stare into its screen every waking minute of the day.” Think of teens walking down the street or sitting curbside tapping away on social media… Or worse yet, might this depiction be you or someone you know?

6. Talk about how stories have helped shape the future of objects. Consider some of the great storytellers and futuristic writers: Orson Wells, Jules Verne, etc.

7. What is your understanding of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and how do you think your information should be safeguarded and/or regulated? Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission is putting the privacy issue brought on by the IoT on its priority list? For a related article from Jan. 8, 2015, see article below at end of discussion questions.

8. What do you think of being so completely interactive with people and things? Consider Rose’s segment about Target, Pg 108 that monitors pregnant women and sends out related coupons only later to have her unaware father find out. Or monitors on walls that detect your every move and change accordingly (Gate’s home and his art work) and trashcans that reorder items you throw away? Would you want to be that connected to your neighbor, neighborhood or even country with shared information in order to conserve, compete, or even be encouraged to do some committed act as suggested?

9. Do you know your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? If not, for fun go to: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp and take the test.

10. For an interesting article by National Geographic titled “8 Gadgets That Might Make Your Home Smarter Than You”, go to: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2015/01/150110-8-gadgets-that-might-make-your-home-smarter-than-you/

11. Talk about some of the enchanted objects Rose mentions and how they can help, hurt, or otherwise alter the way we live, think and thrive.
Here’s a partial list:

Airwave Ski Goggle – contains accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS and Bluetooth
Amazon Trash Can – activated by the “toss” and automatically reorders the item
Ambient Orb (Energy Joule)
Ambient Umbrella – detects rain
Autom – weight management robot
Auto-Valet Parking
Bionics – nonhuman replacement parts
Cars – Expressive headlights, crawl feature, flying, guardrail detection, sensors, Perfumed air, internet connection
CitiCar -- foldable and storable in “car vending machines”
CitiHome – one room that changes into six different modes
Cochlear implants – allows the hearing impaired to hear
Copenhagen Wheel – fits any bicycle, stores/collects energy to assist when needed
Facebook coffee table – flashes Facebook photos related to conversations
FaceTime – 2-way wrist TV
Fitbit – measuring exercise and body
GlowCaps – detects if you’ve forgotten to take your medication
Google Chauffeur – self-driving car’s softwear
Google Glass – glasses worn with data projected in front of you (HUD)
Google Latitude Doorbell – chimes when family members are near home
Guitar Hero – allows amateurs to play almost instantly
HAPIfork – records food intake and alerts you to overeating
HUDs -- Heads-Up Display – transparent display of data within your line of sight
LEGO’s Mindstorms – interconnecting “smart” LEGOS
Like-A-Hug Jacket -- inflates
Livescribe pen – contains a camera, microprocessor and wireless connection
Lockitron door locks – WiFi locking system
LumiTouch – sensory picture frame
MemoMi mirror – retail video with WiFi connection to friends
Monitoring collars – for pets
Nanobots – injected blood-cell-sized devices to improve or monitor health
Nest thermostat – the learning thermostat
NextBus -- Bus Pole concept – when the bus will be arriving
Nike Fuelband – tracks activity
Panopticon Prison – hyperefficient where cells are surveyed by a central tower
Pebble Watch – like a smartphone on your wrist
Roomba vacuum cleaner – robotic vacuums
Salt sentinel – camera analyzes your meal and sends via e-mail
Skype cabinet – pull out a drawer, talk to someone in another state
SproutsIO food system – sustainable farming system inside or outside, large or small
Sunsprite – light source to combat SAD with a solar-powered battery
3-D printers
Team Tile System – video conferencing

Other topics of interest --

TEDMED conferences
M2M World Conferences on the Internet of Things – Next is April 28-29, 2015 in London, England

Article relating to Discussion Question #7:


By PYMNTS @pymnts
6:15 AM EST January 8th, 2015

The consistent achievements in technological innovation cannot be described as anything less than life-changing. From wearable health trackers, to smartcars and smarthomes, to the revolution of the smartphone, these technologies make our lives simpler and can impact nearly every aspect of life.

But as these technologies expand and diversify, federal officials are sounding alarms as to the potential for devastating effects. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez spoke at the International CES trade show this week to the possible impact of our gadget-heavy lives, with emphasis on consumer privacy and data protection.

“In the not to distant future, many, if not most, aspects of our everyday lives will be digitally observed and stored,” Ramirez said during a CES panel. But the devices that obtain that information are also “collecting, transmitting, storing and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, and thereby creating significant privacy risks.”

This is not the first time the FTC has warned against negative impacts from these technologies. Last year, the watchdog held a summit to debate potential regulation of the so-called Internet of Thingsdevices; a report on the topic is set for release by the FTC in the coming days.

While the agency does not have the power to enact new regulations for IoT devices, it can enforce its privacy policies on technology conglomerates and encourage the industry and Congress to adopt stricter consumer privacy rules.

On Tuesday, Ramirez called for companies to install security protections on new products, and to store the least amount of consumer data necessary. She also called for greater consumer choice in how much, and which, information is collected by these gadgets.

Studies, however, suggest that consumers, though concerned about privacy, are becoming more and more willing to share their information online. Reports say the chatter regarding privacy and the Internet of Things revolution on Capitol Hill demonstrate just how deep the technology has infiltrated our markets. According to re/code, there were an estimated 200 million machine-to-machine devices online by the end of 2013; within the next five years, there could be four times as many.

WMBC Discussion questions compiled by:
Elaine Gallant, Jan. 12, 2015
West Maui Book Club