I was talking on the phone with my mom. She was testing a hearing aid to see if she wanted to buy one. Her trial hearing aid, as turns out, is equipped with blue tooth. This means she can pipe audio from her TV or Computer directly into the hearing aid. So, for example, while she watches reruns of the Gilmore Girls she can leave the room and come back without missing any of those delicious bits of motherly witticism.
In addition to piping in her devices, she can actually answer her phone on her hearing aid as long as she’s somewhere within a reasonable distance from the thing—which I also imagine means a hacker could listen to everything she does and says (if they had the interest). Also a government could use the microphones in a entire population of ageing baby boomers to keep log of a large swath of conversations in their country—there are countless interesting ways that information could be used—but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
My first reaction was of course closer to “Awesome” than “I wonder what the ramifications of this technology will be within my lifetime.” But last night I was at the Cyborg Cabaret at the New Hazlet theater, and one of the MCs (a robotics phd student at Carnegie Mellon University) talked briefly about robots’ use for elderly mobility and monitoring and I wondered how many people had seen the film Roujin-Z in the audience.
The image to the right may give you a quick impression. It’s a film about robots for the elderly (more or less). The film addresses an issue that is slowly becoming more real. While gameboys and Ipods are marketed toward young people, a lot of high-end technology has a target audience over 50.
Some of that technology has impressive power. The hearing aid my mom is using will not turn int a robot and fight tanks—but I think they are powerful enough of a tool to make you think (for a moment) about where we are and where we are going.