The Speed Of Life: Can Wireless Data Keep Up With Us?

If you are a part of the modern information age today, you would have noticed that everything these days is moving at a blistering pace. It wasn’t that many years ago that we were tethered to our walls if we wanted to talk to someone that wasn’t within earshot. These days you are hard-pressed to find a place that average everyday users like you or I would go where a mobile phone will not get coverage. If we indeed do happen to find such a place, we are outraged at the inconvenience. It is surreal to think that something that sounded like science-fiction such a short time ago is now so ingrained in our society today that we seemingly cannot live without it. Well brace yourself for Round Two, because Internet connectivity is about to come of age as well.

Wireless routers seemed to enter the market place without too much fanfare. This may have been in part due to their slightly less reliable nature in first incarnations, or the fact that people just couldn’t see the use for wireless connections in the home. Why have wireless connections when for years we have become used to the fact that if you have a computer in your house, there will be a phone line next to it? Now that we are on the move more and more, wireless connections are starting to make a lot of sense to the average Internet user.

To cope with our new thirst for data-on-the-go there is a new wave of ‘hotspots’ springing up. These are places where people can take wireless compatible computers and connect to the web with minimal fuss. Airports, hotels, and bus stations were the first logical places for this type of connection but they are now spreading to places wherever people use computers. People have even begun to list free hotspots at sites like http://www.wififreespot.com/. This is great if you are traveling across country and need to check your email or send photos back to loved ones.

The games-makers have also realized that this is a booming area. Nintendo have just partnered with McDonalds to start bringing consumers wireless gaming via the Nintendo Dual Screen (www.nintendo.com/systemsds) handheld console at selected restaurants across the country. When I connect wirelessly to other people in the world and race around a track in Mario Kart, there is barely time to reflect on how amazing this technology truly is.

There are also certain Internet service providers who now have begun to offer ‘unwired’ services to their customers. This type of connection requires no physical link to the end consumer. Traditionally you would have your wireless router plugged into your existing land-line connection and then you could connect your computer without the use of a cable. Now, the only requirement is that the consumer is based within the large hotspots that the service provider has created. No more hooking up to the phone line.

With all this data flowing freely through the air at ever increasing speeds it is hard not to get carried away thinking about what could actually be done with this sort of technology. Your DVD collection could be stored anywhere in your house and available on demand to any one of your displays, be it in the kitchen, lounge room, or bedroom. The same thing would apply for your music. You could even have a small chip stored in your shoe, clothing, or wallet that linked your personal ID to your play lists. As you moved from room to room in the house, your data could follow you. Ovens could have a direct stream of your recipes for easy access. The trusty alarm clock could wake you at any time with only the day’s News that you want to hear. There could even be an in-depth weather report from your closet as you get dressed. Removing the constraints of ‘where’ we can access information means that rather than slowing us down while we gather it, information can be fed to us as we need it.

As these hotspots grow you won’t even have to leave your data at home. Even the traditional act of sitting down and watching television could be tailored to your personal needs and streamed to you at times when you are able to watch it, such as bus trips or waiting at the dentist. Doing the shopping could be as easy as picking up an order that you mailed ahead during a lunch break. To some this all might sound like information overload and to an extent, you could be right. There is however an upside to packing more into the small, unutilized spaces of our day. If we can get small jobs done while we are commuting or waiting at the dentist, rather than having to go home, sit down, and log on, it frees up a larger chunk of time for us later to go out and enjoy life. Just don’t forget to turn your phone off so you won’t be interrupted while you do!