In the latest episode of Sherlock, the master detective becomes convinced that the Napoleon of Blackmail, Charles Augustus Magnusson, has some sort of smart technology within his glasses that allows him to recall information on people, some sort of 4G remote wireless. While in the episode this belief turns out to be false, the technology for producing something like that is well within our grasp.
For example, Samsung has already produced, and Apple is about to produce, smart watches that can be connected to your phone. And smart glasses like in Sherlock are also on the way. I am not entirely certain why this technology is necessary, but I am sure we are moving closer and closer towards the time when smart phones will have proven themselves obsolete.
The one thing all these new inventions share in common is that they are making use of the fact that technology is getting smaller. From having mobile phones the size of bricks we can now access our emails on our wrist, and the potential benefits of this new technology can be seen in areas such as health and defence.
A prime example of such benefits is Google's latest innovation. They have recently announced the development of smart contact lenses for people with varying types of diabetes. Using tiny sensors, these lenses will detect the levels of glucose in a person's tears and alert them to when they need to take their medicine. Currently, glucose levels have to be checked by doing a blood test, which is both painful and disruptive. Therefore, according to Google, people check their glucose levels less often than they should. With these lenses they do not have to worry, but simple pay attention when the sensors go ping.
Google's smart contacts are currently only in the testing stage, and they still need to be approved by the FDA, but it is hoped that they will soon be rolled out into general use. However, the fact that it is Google that are investing in them tells you a lot about how useful (and potentially lucrative) this new type of technology may be.
The potential for this type of technology cannot be overestimated. If, for example, people could wear devices specifically tailored to keeping a track of their vital signs, then their doctors could pull their medical record off a watch, or glasses, or anything, and boom. They could just go ahead and treat them based on what they've read, thus saving both time and money.
Fans of Sci-Fi, especially Star Trek, have long marvelled at some of the technology available to the characters in those shows, including combadges that can track a person's movements and vital signs. But just as smart phones have long since outstripped Star Trek's portable communicators, so now it seems that in the field of combadges modern technology will once again outstrip its fictional counterpart.
It will probably be a long time before this type of technology is available on the mass market. But the fact that we are finally taking a step into the future is one that we should certainly be excited about.