Friday, October 28, 2005

Notes from the Future - My Buddy 1

Important: As far as I know, the device called Buddy does not exist in the year 2005. The name, design, concept, features and functions of the gadget named Buddy (also referred to as My Buddy) are the intellectual property of A S alone, pending patent processing. Any unauthorized use of the name, design, concept, features and functions of the Buddy will be in violation of the law governing patents, copyrights and goodwill. If anyone wants to turn the concept of this fantasy device Buddy into a reality, they are welcome to contact A S.

My city is blanketed with cheap wireless Internet access at broadband speeds. I can access the Internet from literally ANYWHERE in the city, even when I am travelling in my car or the bus. Almost overnight, this has revolutionized my lifestyle.

The Wi-Fi Net access is not free... yet. We all know it will be free at sometime in the future. But for now, it is not costly either.

Back in 2005, I used to pay a little over 50 US dollars for my cable broadband service alone. In addition, I had other expenses like a big cell phone bill (for voice and text messages), and a bigger international calls bill for my calls to India. Cable TV services were extra, of course.

Compare that to what I have today. I pay my Internet service provider (ISP) 50 US dollars to access wireless Internet using gadgets, with upto 5 unique IP addresses, from anywhere in the world. And this takes care of all my communication needs. Yes, I do mean all: my cell phone, my long distance phone calls, my home phone, my cable TV and computer.

If I want to access Wi-Fi with more devices, having more IP addresses, I have to pay extra. But as you will see below, 5 IP addresses is an overkill for me. By the way, these are static IP addresses I am talking about. IPv6 has made it possible for everybody in the world and everyone of their devices to have static IP addresses. What's more, intelligent gadget design has actually made it possible for an individual to need fewer and fewer IP addresses. You will read more about it below.

First, I want to introduce you to my Buddy. It (I always have to remember to refer to this gadget as it and not a he or a she like most people do. Irritating!) is actually called a Buddy 6-Gen. We just refer to it as Buddy. And it is an extraordinary palm-sized, cellphone-sized device. I just got the newest sixth generation model for $399. I know that is too much money for a gadget which will probably become old design in 6-8 months, and I did not want to buy it. But my wife bought it for my birthday last month, and I am glad she did. My Buddy is a classy black device, with a FULL screen front. That's right, a FULL touchscreen front. No physical keys (well, except for four). The virtual keys appear on the touchscreen whenever I need them. And the screen is so big, clear and beautiful!

Before you get too bored with the physical description of my Buddy, let me list its functions:

1. It is my wallet - stores my ID, driver's license, credit cards, debit cards, cheque book, library card, club cards, house keys, car keys, desk keys, auto and medical insurance cards, and I don't even remember what else. In short, it stores everything I had in my physical wallet in the old days (including pics of my wife and kids), except physical currency notes and coins.

2. It is my universal phone - cell phone, home phone, office phone, car phone.

3. It is my universal modem - connects every device in my home to the Internet.

4. It is my universal media player - personal audio player, car audio player, home audio player, including radio. But it is not limited to audio. It has video functionality also.

5. It is my universal remote control - for every device in my home.

6. It is my personal computer with a 100GB of flash memory (that's right; no spinning hard disk).

My Buddy as a Wallet:
When I receive a card, any card (credit card, insurance card, library card), I call the issuing organization using through my Buddy and enter the card number. They send back a highly encrypted secure digital key, which is stored in my Buddy. Now my Buddy is as good as the card. I lock away the card in my home. When I need to use the card... for example, when I have to use my credit card at a store, I press a button on my Buddy and it sends out a Bluetooth signal with my encrypted secure key. The store's receiver accepts the key, validates it and completes my purchase. The whole process takes less than a minute to complete.

So, can anybody who steals my Buddy use my credit card? Yes and no. Yes, if I am foolish enough to leave my Buddy open to hacking. No, if I have chosen my security setting with care. The Buddy offers different levels of security which are all optional:

1. You cannot start or use the Buddy in any manner without entering a password or placing your finger on the fingerprint sensor or both.

2. You cannot start or use any or all of the software applications or cards stored in the Buddy without entering a password or placing your finger on the fingerprint sensor or both.

3. The password entering and fingerprint sensing can be done on the Buddy or the store's system or on both.

As you can see, there are many levels and combinations of security settings possible. If I wanted maximum security on something, I would do ALL of the following:

1. Setup my Buddy to start only after entering right password and using the correct finger on the fingerprint sensor of the Buddy.

2. In addition, setup my card or software application to be usable only after entering the right password and using the correct finger on the fingerprint sensor of the Buddy, for the second time.

3. In addition, configure my Buddy so that it is necessary for me to use a password and finger print on the store's system, for the third time.

This gives me three levels of protection, using passwords and fingerprints. But most of us don't bother to have such high security. We just use our fingerprints on the Buddy - fingerprint to switch on the Buddy, and fingerprint scan on the Buddy only for financial transactions. We are not comfortable leaving our finger prints on store machines.

Just as every card has an ecrypted secure digital key, our homes, cars, desks... literally anything which needs a lock and key has an electronic lock now. And, each of these locks can be configured to open with a Bluetooth signal from the Buddy and/or our fingerprints. For my home and car, I use the digital key from my Buddy and my fingerprint.

I guess I don't have to tell you how my wife and kids' pictures are stored on the Buddy. In fact, the Buddy has dozens of pictures stored on its flash memory. However, I have thousands more pictures stored on the Internet, and I can access them all using my Buddy.

As for physical currency... I have stopped carrying them. There are still some (mostly older) people who walk around with physical money. I used to do that too during the initial days that I started using the Buddy, but then I found that I almost never had to use the physical money anywhere. So, I put them away in the locker at my home. I think they will be valuable antiques sometime in the future... probably before I die.

Rest of My Buddy's features continued in Notes from the Future - My Buddy 2...


  1. Five-and-half years after I first published this dream, Google makes another feature a reality: Coming soon: make your phone your wallet!

  2. Here are the best voicemail apps for android which you can easily download from the Google play store. YouMail Visual Voicemail. Visual Voicemail Plus. T-Mobile Visual Voicemail. Verizon Visual Voice Mail.