Project Timeline 2005–2010

Skip to content

A Day in 2018: #6

Categories: General, Stories Composed by OTB Participants
Date: April 2008

When I awake, sensors in my bedroom linked to the household server register my movements and switch on the radio which is tuned to the local ASWSC (Australian Special Webcast Service Corporation) public service webcast news. As I move through the house, the burble of morning radio follows me from room to room. “Football news,” I say wearily, and the radio stream immediately switches to a report of the action in the European Premier League. My team has lost again. Some things never change.

I climb on to the exercise machine to begin my half-hour routine. A small display tells me how much electricity I am generating. “How’s Dad today?” I ask the computer, and the screen wall in front of me flickers on to the image of my father’s unit in his residential care complex in London. It is late evening there, but he is still awake watching an old program about architectural design. He has had Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade, but the new media therapy is performing wonders – stimulating electrical impulses, thoughts and memories, deep in his brain and helping him to fight back against the debilitating disease. On screen as I exercise my body and brain, I read a report about his day. I read his medical journal detailing his exercise and medication routines. I look at his activity log. He has spent a long time looking at some old family photographs that I had annotated and animated yesterday. One in particular has caught his attention repeatedly; a photograph of me and my brother aged about 10 and 11 in front of an old steam locomotive in Wales. I call up the photograph which fills my screen wall, and I hear my own voice telling the story of that day just as my father would have heard it when he viewed the photograph. In the bottom left corner of the screen a few sentences of text appear. My computer is making suggestions of information to flesh out the photograph based on my narrative, with links to the history of the locomotive and others in its class, a present-day picture of the same site, related family photographs, and stories of great train journeys of the world which can be configured to be read aloud by a voice that matches mine or any other member of my family. My father has noticed the glowing signal in the corner of his screen which tells him that I am online with him now. “Hello,” he cries cheerily. The image on my screen changes to a head-on shot of him, just as his screen changes to a shot of me. “Hi Dad, how are you today?” I ask. We talk about his day, and about the photograph, until he decides that it is time to sleep.

I climb off the exercise machine, pausing briefly to read the biometric report on the wall in front of me. I walk to the shower. “Dream report,” I say. While I stand under the spray I look at the mass of information about my brain activity which was captured by sensors in my pillow while I was asleep and which is now projected on to the shower screen. I watch the patterns of electrical signals and read the computer’s analysis of them; this is a brand new technology but one I find invaluable. I remember only fragments of my dreams. This new media technology helps me recapture some of the ideas and conceptual breakthroughs my mind has made while I slept. I will use these later in the day when I begin work on my latest project developing therapeutic media content for dementia patients.

In the kitchen the screen on the front of my refrigerator is already displaying the optimal choice for my meals for the rest of the day based on the information from my exercise routine and food available in my house. I am uninspired by the choice on offer. I say aloud “Ask mum,” and within a few seconds she answers the call, and I see her on the fridge screen. She recommends an alternative menu, and gives my computer instructions on what I need. By the time I return for dinner, all extra ingredients will have been ordered and delivered. “Is Eloise awake yet?” my mother asks. My daughter is almost eighteen, on the downhill run out of school, preparing for her final exams. No technology yet invented has ever managed to badger or coax her out of bed at a reasonable hour. She knows that she can catch up on classes and access all relevant information later in the day during the late shift at school, or here at home with her mum who is studying for a postgraduate qualification in environmental engineering with a university on the other side of the country. They can both download video of their latest lectures and classes in preparation for video calls with their respective personal educational facilitators later in the day.

On most days I can conduct my content development business from home, writing collaboratively with colleagues spread around the world. Today I am beginning a major new project and must travel in to the city to meet clients for the first time. Face to face meetings are essential in the first instance, although this is likely to be the only time I will meet the clients until the work is complete. As I walk to my car, I dictate instructions about the destination and the people I’m meeting. A tiny chip in my shirt collar records and transmits my instructions to the car’s computer. By the time I reach the car, the engine is running, and the door is open. I climb in to the luxurious interior and settle back. The interior of the windscreen displays various documents and files relevant to the meeting for me to read on the journey. I’m feeling well-prepared, and opt to watch a movie instead of looking at the documents. I call up a list of titles of movies I have not yet seen which is tailored to my interests based on previous films I have seen and on recommendations of friends and colleagues. The title sequence begins as the car reverses itself out of my driveway and on to the road. The journey is no quicker than it was a decade ago, but infinitely more pleasant as I can relax confident that the car’s on-board computer and navigation system will find the quickest route. I glance out of the window as my car glides in to the highway traffic. Although I can’t hear or see it, I know that the car is communicating with the traffic around it to ensure the safety of all.
After the meeting I watch the messages on my videophone, and dictate notes and ideas for me and my colleagues to follow up later in the day. The meeting is in a part of the city I am unfamiliar with, so I use my videophone to access a variety of location-specific information including an audio file of an old man’s childhood memories of this place. I record my own impressions and ideas and upload them to the local area database.

On my journey home I organise my meeting notes and ideas, and set to work on the project. Half an hour later my car reminds me to take a break, and I spend the next five minutes browsing the sites of ASWSC and Foxtelstra to cue up my evening’s viewing. A glowing icon in the corner of the windscreen alerts me to a video call from my wife, reminding me to collect my son from football practice on the way home. I instruct the car to make the detour, and I arrive at the field in time to watch the end of my son’s practice match. I video some of the play with my videophone, and it is simultaneously uploaded to the club’s site.

When we arrive home I spend half an hour editing the footage of the match with my son, using my video and others uploaded by his teammates’ families. I intercut the footage with statistical and diagnostic information provided by the club which allows us to analyse my son’s wonder goal in endless detail. We save the highlights package for our family spread around the world to watch at their leisure.

After dinner we all sit together to watch the various programs we have each ordered during the day and feed back our impressions to the producers. We play a short game of tennis in the lounge room; I feign injury to avoid another humiliating defeat.