Future Visions: Ericsson

Written on November 02 2011 at 00:20

(Part of a short series of commentary on the future visions that technology companies produce.)

In Ericsson’s Social Web of Things, our protagonist “David” is on his way home from work, having informed his house that he expects to be entertaining a lady-friend that evening. The House - despite already being pristine - dutifully starts ready itself, cleaning and warming and so on. The Microwave excuses itself and the Roomba-a-like has a bit of cheeky banter with the Sofa.

And then tragedy strikes our protagonist as “Sophia” cancels, and the House changes gear by ordering “the usual” chinese takeaway. “David” sits down with his “food” and the “football” and when “Sophia” calls, after a moments hesitation, he watches the football anyway.

“Mission Accomplished” says the House.

Does nobody else find this… sinister?

If your appliances can future-tweet at you as you drive in the car, who is to say they aren’t future-tweeting at your friends and acquaintances too? Isn’t it then obvious that the Microwave and the neglected-despite-its-protests umbrella are conspiring against Sophia, with the House and everything else in it clearly complicit?

Television to Sophia: “David would rather watch Me that spend a minute with you, skank!”

In the future, your appliances will be JEALOUS. That’s the future. It’s one short step away from Demon Seed territory.

There may well be something in a household of appliances that interact in relatively independent ways (I’m pretty sure I threw ideas around last year with Tom Armitage about a house of devices establishing some kind of internal market for managing energy), but is it really useful to depict this as some pithy collection of emo characters? Really?

Back to the series.