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Life in 2020: Your Dating History on Display and Other Faintly Disturbing Predictions

Frog Design forecasts our wired future–beautiful or HAL-ish?

Life in 2020: Your Dating History on Display and Other Faintly Disturbing Predictions

Imagine 10 years from now, you order a Bacon and
Cheese Whopper, only for a monitor to tell you precisely how many
grueling miles you’ll have to run to burn it off. Or someone just
glances at your shoes and knows where you bought them. Or consider
this: You walk into a bar and your entire dating history is thrown up
on display. Would you run for the hills? (I sure as hell would.)

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Frog Design monitor

Welcome
to 2020 as envisioned by Frog Design, a voyeuristic fantasy in which
pretty much everything is transformed into digital data. Buying a train ticket is as easy
as sending a text, shopping goes down on your PDA, and privacy goes out the window. Creepy, but hey, it’s the future.

The project, called “Your Life in 2020,” brought
together Frog, tech guru John Maeda, and a raft of other designers,
futurists, and journalists at a conference in San Francisco in
December, and the results were recently presented (and these concept images have just been released). At the heart of the matter is a seamless marriage
of physical and digital worlds, with Aldous Huxley as officiant. “It’s no longer ‘technology’ in 2020
anymore,” Maeda writes. “It’s just how we get things done.” We have the
highlights below.

Transportation
Small is the new big, and
sharing is the new byword. Cars will tamp into smaller and smaller
footprints and practically everyone will ride a bike, sending SUVs the
way of the horse and buggy. Rideshare programs like SmartCar and
ZipBike will go from fringe to mainstream. And trains will be hooked
up to a massive e-network, so you can book and buy tickets on your
cell. For those who still have to brave the highways, traffic will be
dictated by personality. Type A? An on-ramp tracks you ahead of other
cars (and quarantines your road rage), so you can drive as fast as you please — within the
speed limit, of course.

School
Ten years from now is “the end of the
classroom as we know it,” George Kembel of the Stanford d.school
writes. Professors will be a “team of coaches,” and class projects
will be like Choose Your Own Adventure — open-ended and actually pretty fun.

Work
The
good news is that you’ll be doing less of it. The bad news is that it
won’t necessarily be by choice. Computers will be 32 times more
powerful than they are now, meaning practically everything will be
automated. Automation, of course, is code for layoffs. The service
sector and manufacturing will take it on the chin.

Food
Technology will make it reallllly
hard to inhale a whole box of Oreos. Every time you pop something in
your mouth, a device adjusts your personal nutritional rating, inching
up when you eat something healthy and down (way down) when you eat all
the Oreos. It’s like having Jillian Michaels by your side all the time,
except less annoying. The devilishly complicated FDA guidelines will be
replaced by a universal food decision icon “that is easy enough for
even a 5-year-old to grasp,” writes IA Collaborative’s Dan Kraemer. (See above.) And
smart refrigerators will scan your kitchen for ingredients, whip up an
ultra-healthy menu, then preheat the oven. They’re the new (faintly fascistic) personal
chef.

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Computing
Computers will be able to track everything we do. Everything.
As Frog’s Mark Rolston tells it, they’ll monitor your health as easily
as you might update your Facebook page. They’ll shop for you, no need
to wade through department-store racks. If you see a great pair of shoes on
someone walking down the street, your mobile handset or AR-equipped
glasses can identify them, and then do the price-shopping for you. You’ll be able to interact with an Xbox 360 without ever touching a
control. See Project Natal.

Frog Design monitor

Love
Never
again will you have to utter the words, “So, what do you do?” (And
never again will you have to stammer through an answer.) It’ll all be
right there on an overhead display, a sort of speech bubble for the wired age. Sounds cool, right? Until you think about the last time a
computer had that much power.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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