Rodney M Bliss

The Power Of the Sun. . .In The Palm Of My Hand

Bonus points if you know where I quoted the title from without Googling it. I’ll answer it below.

I want to talk about the future of technology a little. It’s a dangerous topic for a blogger. Because the internet is forever and whatever I say here will probably live on well past my opportunity to defend myself. I did manage to predict the future correctly once. (That Time I Predicted The Future. . .And I Was Totally Right.) I predicted that computers would be able to detect what drivers they needed to load at boot time.

I won a clock that looked like a floppy disk.

Today, I want to talk about power. We regularly have people come to our building from other locations. And I’ve noticed more and more they bring along their phone chargers. It’s a big deal to get to the conference room first, not so you can grab a great seat, but so you can grab the electrical outlet!.

Last time I rented a car, they offered to sell me a USB power adapter. I thought, “I’m not paying an extra $5 for that!” And I missed a meeting because I was driving and my phone died.

Here is a picture of two flashlights.

The one on the right is a mini Maglite(R) that takes two AAA batteries. The one on the left is completely solar powered. About now, some of you are feeling somewhat disappointed.

That’s it? Your big prediction is solar power? Sorry, Rodney you are about 40 years too late!

True, but no. The change I think we’ll see is a move to break the link to the power outlet. Earlier this year a 16 year old named Ann Makosinski in Vancouver Canada took second place in her high school science fair. However, a few months later she won a $25,000 scholarship from Google for the exact same invention. What was it? A flashlight.

Not just any flashlight, this flashlight took no batteries. It didn’t depend on solar power. It gets it power by people holding it. Think about that a minute. You pick up the flashlight and it turns on and stays on as long as you hold it.

(On a side note, you have to wonder what the guy that took first in her high school science fair invented? Cold fusion?)

Ann and the resulting stories talk about what a benefit this flashlight will be to people around the world without electricity. And it will be.

But, Google doesn’t make flashlights. I think they envision a day that your handheld devices get their energy from your hand.

My prediction is that smartphones will eventually get their energy from human contact augmented by solar power.

I think we will eventually see phones that you never have to plug in.

BTW, the quote I borrowed for the title of this column comes from Otto Octavius in Spiderman 2.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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