Help me live like George Jetson
December 13, 2008 12:15 PM   Subscribe

We're on the cusp of 2009 and I want to start living like George Jetson. What are some of the things around your house/office that make you feel like you are living in the future? What are some of new technologies in development that I can look forward to?
posted by pwally to Technology (32 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
posted by nitsuj at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

The Roomba robotic vacuum!
posted by CoralAmber at 12:50 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

My Kindle.
posted by peacheater at 12:58 PM on December 13, 2008

Nintendo Wii.
posted by junkbox at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2008

Moller Skycar!
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:07 PM on December 13, 2008

Controlling my iTunes via the app Remote on my iPhone. It is just too friggin' cool.

Plus, I generally find instant pudding to be extremely futuristic. No really.
posted by fenriq at 1:09 PM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Moller Skycar!

FWIW, most people consider Moller a con-man who will never deliver a product. I know you dont own a skycar because no one does.

Regardless, ten thing of the top of my head:

1. Being able to fly just about anywhere affordably. Its really incredible how travel was the stuff of legends and only for a brave few. Since the onset of the jet airliner, just about anyone can fly anywhere. Frequently too.

2. GPS devices. Still new enough to impress.

3. Private space tourism. Granted, no one has delivered a product yet, but it really is odd to hear about these video game tycoons running these little space companies as side projects.

4. The ISS. Its also a bit dated, but I was just watching a video of some astronauts up there and just found the whole thing to be a bit future-shocky. Especially now that they are drinking their own urine.

5. The Mars landers. Its just incredible that we have these machines on the surface of Mars.

6. Computer viruses. Sometimes it just makes me feel weird that a good part of my job is fighting self-propagating software. Its a bit like living in a William Gibson novel.

7. A black president.

8. Predator drones. Theyre pretty low tech, but the idea of people scanning the sky being in fear of remote controlled rc planes with hellfire missiles is very sci-fi.

9. The video of that robot that walks like a dog.

10. Modern drugs. From the SSRI revolution to treating ulcers with antibiotics. This is weirdness central.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:28 PM on December 13, 2008


Again, Roomba.

posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:35 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Any computer, even one that's obsolete by modern standards. A high-definition flat-screen television. Broadband Internet and all that it implies (e-mail, Skype, MetaFilter...). Any video game system. A microwave oven. A digital camera. A Sonicare toothbrush. Any cellular phone, but especially one that you did not pay cash money for.

Ooh, here's a good one. An Emerson SmartSet digital alarm clock -- Jesus God, you plug it in and it sets itself! And it knows what day it is, so you can set your alarm to go off only on weekdays. George Jetson didn't even conceive of anything like that!

A laser pointer. $4 delivered from Hong Kong, and it's a real, live laser!

Speaking of globalization: Any product in your house that was not made in the United States. Any fresh fruit or vegetable in your kitchen that is out of season.

For extra lulz, compare the computing power of the microcontroller in any modern appliance to the computer system used on the Apollo missions. You probably have enough processing power in your dishwasher to send a man to the moon and return him safely to Earth.
posted by kindall at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I picked up an iphone and flicked through a bunch of photos, I declared it a "Jetpack moment" - I was struck with a tremendous feeling that I'd just grabbed a sci-fi movie prop that worked.

Similarly, bluetooth headsets. I mean, literally, that's what Uhura's earpiece was on Star Trek, and now we buy them for $30 on Amazon. Over a distributed world-spanning network that connects millions of systems....
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:40 PM on December 13, 2008

Skype, with webcams on each end of the call.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:40 PM on December 13, 2008

iPhone. Seconded. Not to be such an abject fanboy, but I actually did say "it's like we're living in the future now" when my wife and I got iPhones. For that matter, back about 10 years when I got my first brick-like cellphone, that seemed pretty futuristic too.

The next step, when I'm feeling a little more flush, is to replace the A/V setup in the living room and hook up a Mac Mini running Plex or Boxee. That'll be pretty Jetsonian.

I also feel like I'm in the future whenever I visit Tokyo.

What technologies can you look forward to? Cheap, flexible video displays plastered all over everything. Cheap, flexible solar panels plastered all over everything. Possibly both as one. Super-high-speed Bluetooth so that all your gadgets can beam information between themselves (maybe). 4G cellular. Much better battery technology that'll make electric cars practical and iPhones that can run for more than a day on a charge.
posted by adamrice at 1:41 PM on December 13, 2008

Multiple Kill Vehicle
posted by nitsuj at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2008

The Hug Shirt!
I've wanted one since I first read about it in Time two years ago.

Also, Fiber Optic Solar Lighting is pretty awesome.

Other favorites:
Wi-Fi detector shirt
Spy Camera Sunglasses
3D Picture Frame
Robotic Alarm Clock (This one is particularly Jetson-ish).
LED light panel

It would've been quicker to link you to ThinkGeek, but I think those are some of the best.
posted by SputnikSweetheart at 1:50 PM on December 13, 2008

2nding adamrice...go to Tokyo. On our honeymoon there my husband said "It's like we're in the future!" like ten times a day. Going to the Googleplex has a futuristic feeling to it too...something about the utopian free food and webcams in every conference room, I guess. Oh, and the Toto heated Washlets.

I'm still kind of stoked to think that my engagement ring features a diamond grown in a lab.

Also, maybe this is just me, but those Indian dinners that come in a foil packet make me feel really futuristic. Something about pouring a bunch of gunk out of a packet and nuking it for 2 minutes and then, like magic, it is delicious nourishment, makes me feel like I'm living in scifi. And remember that Grapple that they had at supermarkets a while back, that looked like an apple but smelled like grape soda? Straight out of Philip K. Dick, right?

I think my boss had a "we're in the future" moment the other day when I told him how easy it was to set up his iMac's webcam with Gchat. 5 minutes later he called me in my cube and said "Wow, this is awesome!" and then got a bunch of his friends to do it too and was talking to all of them in his office for the rest of the afternoon. And it is pretty cool how kids and their faraway grandparents stay in touch through webcams now.
posted by crinklebat at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2008

Dishwasher. I mean… I put my dirty dishes in this robot box, press a button, and a while later they're clean! THE FUTURE!!!

iPhones are pretty neat too
posted by hattifattener at 2:09 PM on December 13, 2008

Well, I came here to say iPhone, too.

But also the webcam. This strikes me every time I use the ol' video phone to talk to my relatives 2,500 miles away, especially those old enough to remember having to go into town to use the telephone.

Then again, I still think microwave ovens are pretty cool.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:43 PM on December 13, 2008

Get a dog name it Astro, and name your first son Elroy.

And, now get that theme song out of my head!
posted by HuronBob at 3:40 PM on December 13, 2008

I gotta quadruple ditto the Roomba. It's *fricking amazing*. Seriously. Does just as it says on the tin. Put it in a room, turn it on, go to work or school or shopping or whatever, come home, room is vacuumed within an inch of its life, and Roomba has docked itself back in the charger.

Plus? Endless entertainment if you have pets.
posted by tzikeh at 4:24 PM on December 13, 2008

Favorite this site. Technovelgy. It's awesome.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:17 PM on December 13, 2008

I can't believe no one has mentioned the Segway! It is totally a Jetson-like contraption (I can even hear the high-speed car Jetson noise in my brain while I think about it).
posted by purenitrous at 6:20 PM on December 13, 2008

I'm only 24. My threshold for future is probably higher than yours. But, I routinely realize that I live in the future. The only question I have is whether we can hope for Star Trek? I think we're headed rather more toward Neuromancer.

So, artifacts in/around my house:

My television--good enough to display a painting, if you're a few feet back. Wikipedia. *Any* smartphone--a cellphone without smart is just a better walkie-talkie, imo. The fiber-optic audio connection between my computer and my receiver. vmware/virtualization in general. My keyboard. LED christmas lights. My car's astoundingly smart brakes. Wireless networking. Contactless charging. Infinite pornBroadband internet.

Just look at the plugs and connectors we use these days, and compare them to what we used fifteen years ago. How much more elegant and humane is the USB connector, as compared to the multitude of RS-232 connectors available? HDMI versus fifty years of increasing numbers of individual RCA connector lines. Component video plus decoded 5.1 is 9 channels, with 9 lines, with 9 connectors!

Stuff that I do not have in my house:

Neural implants--I'll have one soon, I promise. UAVs (not just the Predator, but all of them). Multinational/transnational/anational organizations--the zaibatsu. Have you seen the personal optics and electronics US soldiers carry? Ceramic body armor. Impact armor. Electric sports cars that outperform anything in their price range. Pitiful, laughable, joyless, blobby, friendly economy cars that run on gimmicks and low mass. Cheap, high-definition head-mounted displays--hopefully after Christmas, this will be in my house. Wireless full-color cameras that weigh 3 grams. Autonomous robots that carry those cameras. CNN, FOX News, and the blogosphere--very Transmetropolitan, imo.

(Also, regarding the Multiple Kill Vehicle. I feel the need to bring this up, since there's a lot of misapprehension going around that's leading to a lot of silly talk... those aren't machineguns. Those are rocket engines firing to maintain position. The whole package, plus some explosive warheads not included in the demo video, are designed to intercept nuclear missiles. Still, the hover control is absolutely astounding... I thought it was CGI till I looked up the project.)
posted by Netzapper at 6:31 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

The iPod Nano. "You feel like you’re watching movies on a business card."
posted by Dec One at 6:41 PM on December 13, 2008

Any smartphone. (Though one with GPS and Google Street View still blows my mind.)


Anything with electronic paper or OLED display.

Forget the Roomba, vacumming isn't the future. Try a Rolly or an Aibo.

Power something with a fuel cell, or use some wireless power.

Fingerprint reader.

Get and RFID implant and teach your house to recognize you and where you are.

Wireless digital picture frame.

3D TV.

Tons more.
posted by Ookseer at 6:47 PM on December 13, 2008

Seconding a digital picture frame. This one even plays videos (MPEG-4 and H.264).
posted by Class Goat at 7:21 PM on December 13, 2008

The Internet Movie Database.

Any time you start taking the Internet for granted, consider that you have free and instant access to what would have been - less than 20 years ago - far and away the most comprehensive film reference library in the world.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:23 PM on December 13, 2008

My Prius.
posted by LarryC at 11:32 PM on December 13, 2008

MY friend has an app on his iPhone that he turns on when we're in a restaurant or bar or someplace and music is playing. The app "listens" and identifies the song. I swear I almost think it's a trick.
It's freakily futuristic to me.
posted by pointystick at 7:27 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Roomba, definitely. When it zips around the stacks of records and books in my apartment, it looks like some kind of cyborg horseshoe crab sent from a dystopian future world. It's great!
posted by quatsch at 8:59 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll agree that robotic help like the Roomba is very Jetsons... but as far as futuristic stuff goes, that I use every day, I'd definitely have to vote for XBMC.

Having modded my generation one XBoxes, I now have an xbox based media center on every floor of my house serving up thousands of movies, hundreds of television series, and tens of thousands of songs from a central server in my house.

It makes the idea of waiting to see a movie when it is shown on Television or having to record a VHS tape of the broadcast seem so medieval.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mp3 players. My Creative Zen Sleek is pretty much obsolete these days, but - if travelling for a few hours, I'd need to take four or five tapes in my bag, plus Walkman and spare batteries. Now I have half my record collection on something the size of one cassette tape.
posted by mippy at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2008

Skype, along with the fact you can use it on a PSP or similar mobile devices that aren't phones.
WiMAX. It's going to be huge.
My Sirius Stiletto 2, it plays and records satellite radio, plays internet radio and MP3s. In fact, most MP3 players are wondrous devices.
posted by geekchic at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2008

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