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17 May 2015

It's a Wireless World!

Imagine a kitchen where you will no longer have to wonder about like a desert nomad with your blender or toaster in hand searching for an oasis of power or at least a clear space near a free outlet.

The idea of wireless electricity was first conceived by legendary inventor, Nikola Tesla in the early 1900’s. His idea was to build giant transmission towers across the US that would emit an electrical frequency that your home appliance or light bulb would receive and be powered, much in the same way as a radio picks up a broadcast signal. After a major legal battle that was finally settled in the Supreme Court on the side of GE and Thomas Edison, Tesla and his idea of free electricity faded into obscurity.

But all is not lost, Fulton Industries has developed a highly efficient wireless power transfer systems that elements the use of cables or cords for small appliances. The new system can transfer wirelessly 60w of electrical energy over a distance of nearly 24” with 80% efficiency. This new technology is based on magnetic resonance, where two or more devices can transfer energy when using the same resonant frequencies.

The idea requires embedding a line-connected power transmitter into a counter-top, table top or wall, which then transmits power to an adapted appliance placed near or on the transmitter without the need for a cord between the transmitting or receiving elements.
Once developed to its full potential, you would be able to place any future portable household appliance, such as a toaster, blender, coffee maker or can-opener anywhere in the kitchen you would like to work without the need of a power-cord, plug or socket.

Not only can we look forward to a cord free kitchen, but what if we could warm up a can of your favorite soup or chili by just placing an eCoupled container anywhere on the embedded counter-top. Just pull the tap to warm, medium or hot and let the embedded technology do the rest.
Not just an energy source, but more like an embedded information highway. Imagine your child’s delight as his morning cereal box becomes interactive with new games or comics each morning as well as offering Mom incentives to download to her smart phone coupons for more cereal that she is nearly out of. This smart counter will be able to scan your bag of groceries when you arrive home from the market and log in your purchases and let you know when you are running low on everyday items.

For me, the greatest benefits of this new technology will be safety. With the elimination of the possibility for electric shock, gone forever will be the days of socket guards from curious fingers. 

 And just think of the fun of making margaritas pool side with no need for plug…let the party begin! The possibilities are endless and the modern kitchen, as we know it, will continue to open up and expand its boundaries as new technology and applications continue to emerge.

Now Mr Tesla…about that “free” electricity idea?

10 May 2015


More than seventy years ago, the “Futurist” predicted that our world would be awash in jet-packs, flying-cars, moving sidewalks, personal robot helpers, mile-high cities, and let us not forget the ambiguous vacation on the Moon, or better yet on Mars.

Much like a feather on a string in front of a playful kitten, the kitchen of the future with all its time and labor saving gadgets and gizmo’s, has been dangled in front of the American consumer since the 1939 New York Worlds Fair, but for me the future become a reality one very hot summer day in 1960, while I stood in line at Disneyland to see the house that would change my life forever, the house of the future…the Monsanto House of Tomorrow.

My first impression of the future, as an eight year old boy, was that it would be cool. Ice cold air-conditioned air blew on my skin as I walked in from a hot and sticky Anaheim heat wave. There was the future…laid out before me like a buffet. The embodiment of every science fiction movie, TV show, book, magazine and comic book I had ever seen, all before me in glorious molded plastic, and as expected, everything was white or chrome with accents of color, it would be easy to see my life in this home of the future.

And the kitchen, of this brave new world, was laid out as if it was a medical laboratory. A shiny, gleaming, pristine environment where actual food and food preparation would be banned and we would pop “food-pills” and consume “radar-ranged” freeze-dried dinners, and our personal robot helper would clean up the dishes using no water in the sonic dishwasher and we would all talk to our friends and family on the Viz-A-Phone after dinner.

Thankfully, many of these visions are still the stuff of science fiction, but as we wade knee-deep into the 21st century, we find that a few of Monsanto’s visions have survived and evolved. The ubiquitous microwave oven has evolved from the radar-range into an everyday kitchen cornerstone. The magnetic induction cook-top with its heat-free cooking is right out of the Jetson’s and the integrated dishwasher, though not sonic, I am sorry to say, is a standard feature in every American home.

So, where is the future we was promised? I had invested all that time in books and movies and I knew every nook and cranny and back road of the future and with great disappointment I woke one morning to the world as it was, not as it should have been.   To be honest, I I was feeling a little bit cheated.

But then something happened, the future had caught up with me. I realized , that I am living in the future of my youth, but only without the white one-piece unitary, the official uniform of the future.

I have my Bluetooth firmly lodged into my ear, I drive an electric car, I can watch TV as well as communicate instantaneously, around the world from my smart phone via email, text or Twitter. If you count SIRI,  I even have a personal robot assistant, and I do have to lift my legs every now and then with the RUMBA comes scooting along to vacuum the floor. I knew for sure I was living in the future, as I sat on my sofa, watching live images streaming back from Mars, while eating micro-waved popcorn. Now, if I only had that jet-pack.

02 May 2015


With chips and sensors as well as voice and face recognition programs being added to almost all household appliances these days; it will be just a matter of time before these machines begin to guide us through our day.  There are refrigerators that scan the contents inside and make menu suggestions as well as wine pairings.  Dishwashers that will suggest that you run at a later time or even wait for another plate or two.  I am surprised that my microwave hasn’t asked if I really wanted that bag of popcorn after communicating with my bathroom scale.   

 We are surrounded by smart devices already; we have our iPhone, iPad and iPod at the ready 24/7, just waiting for us to ask them for advice or directions or to entertain us.  They let us know if the dishwasher has sprung a leak, they tell us we are overdrawn at the bank and ask if we would like to transfer funds to avoid an overdraft charge.  The will lets us know that it is raining and would we like to cancel the sprinklers.  And don’t forget to lift your feet, here comes the Roomba robot vacuum.  It is just a matter of time before we will live in an iHouse and drive an iCar.

The US military has been developing software to recognize stress under battle conditions and to offer suggestions and possible alternatives to an otherwise shaken up officer under attack…not to make the decision for him, but to help him understand the situation and the options available.  This program will recognize voice variation, increase in heart rate and breathing as well as facial cues as well as past outcomes of similar situations and all with a soothing and calm may even tell a joke to lighten the situation. 

 While traveling across Florida a few months back, I had the opportunity to experience the GPS that came with my phone and I’m convinced that it had some how been programmed with one of these new military smart chips.

Having traveled across Florida many times and for many years, I felt I knew my way around the state like a native, but once I turned on the device that had been taunting me for several hours on the road, it was like crack cocaine...I was hooked...there was no turning back.

I gave up everything to my new friend, I trusted her completely and without question with my welfare, even when I knew she was taking me in the wrong direction.  

Maybe it was the long drive across the pan-handle in the middle of the night, maybe it was the hypnotic effect of the passing white line on a long stretch of Florida back road, but at some point we began to bond, The boundary between man and machine began to blur, I found myself having full length conversations, as well as deep discussion on life, including issues regarding my wife and children.  Her voice was soothing, confident and so self-assured, but then like all relationships, things began to break down and as quick as it was to fall in love, it was as quick to end.

Around 2:00 am in the morning, in the middle of no where, it happened.  We lost the satellite feed, how was that even possible? And then the misdirection’s and wrong turns began and started to ask myself, “where is she taking me?”

I knew it was over when she began to mock me.  I had missed my turn, even though she had given me plenty of warning, and there it was, a tone.  She said “You missed your exit…reeeee-calibrating”.  You could hear it in her voice and that was it, neither of us spoke for the rest of the trip to the airport.  I even went so far as to turn the volume down and followed the signs to the rental drop off.  On the shuttle bus to the airport, I began to think that I may have been a little too hard on her as I began to miss her voice and guidance and come to think of it, her advice about the kids was pretty right-on.

 We are living in amazing times and talking to my phone or arguing with the microwave about the popcorn may sound odd and it may take sometime to get use too, but on the other hand, how many of us talk to our pets or plants as if they understood.