Saturday, October 29, 2005

Notes from the Future - My Buddy 2

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.

Notes from the Future - My Buddy 1

My Buddy as a Universal Phone:
My Buddy is the coolest phone you have ever heard about. For starters, it is a VoIP cum old-fashioned conventional phone. Since we have Wi-Fi Net access throughout the city, all my calls get routed directly through the Internet. When I am in areas with no Internet access, Buddy functions as an old-fashioned cell phone. The calls placed through the Internet are all free. No kidding! This is the day and age when Internet phones are the rule, and conventional phones are the rare exceptions. Literally everyone I know uses an Internet phone. So, calling them on the Buddy is free, no matter where they are in the world. It is like the free voice chat of the old days. Except, the clarity of these phones are like no voice chat you'd experienced in 2005.

The second cool thing about phones these days is that, we no longer have phone numbers. That's right. When all the phones moved to the Internet, there was no need to be tied to hard to remember numbers, based on country codes and area codes. All you need is a person's chat id, and you can call them on your phone. The address book on My Buddy is full of people's chat/email ids. Absolutely no numbers. I don't need anything else to get in touch with people. And, as long as the person I want to talk to is logged on to the Net using any device - a cell phone, a home phone, a computer, a handheld computer, a music player, a Buddy, whatever device, and s/he is logged on using the chat/email id I am trying to reach, I will be able to reach her/him.

Gone are the days when caller-id on the phone meant displaying only the person's name. Today, when I receive a phone call, I can see any information about the caller that she/he wishes to reveal. It is a caller-profile. Not just a caller-id. The caller-profile could include her/his picture, base location, current location, current status (in class, in a meeting, sleeping, travelling, out of reach, whatever), her/his business card, blog, website, entire history!

The phone functionality of My Buddy is no different from the chat clients of the old days. In fact, the phone interface on the screen even looks a lot like the olden days chat clients... only it's more ditzy and feature-rich. Needless to say I can use the Buddy to not only talk to friends who are afar, but also to send text messages, multimedia messages with pictures, music, video, even live video! I can do everything but teleport myself or my caller through My Buddy.

My Buddy is my phone wherever I am. It is my cell phone, it is my home phone, it is my office phone and my car phone. It is truly a universal phone.

My Buddy as a Universal Modem:
A lot of people use the Buddy, coupled with a wireless router, as a universal modem in their homes. When they are home, they just place the Buddy in a dock of their wireless router. The wireless router then connects every device in the house - every computer, conventional-type phone, camera, TV, music system, even the cooking range and oven, dishwasher, refrigerators, washing machine and drier - to the Internet.

You may wonder why we need a modem and a wireless router if every corner of the city and every room of the home is already blanketed with wireless broadband from our Internet Service Provider. This is where the concept of needing less number of static IP addresses comes into the picture.

We are charged for our Internet access based on the number of devices with static IP addresses we use. I already told you that I pay 50 bucks for 5 static IP addresses. But the number of Internet-connected devices my 4-member family has in our home and in our pockets, could easily be upto 15! I do not want to pay $150 for 15 static IP addresses. I don't need so many static addresses either. This is where the Buddy steps into help us.

My wife, our two kids and I have a Buddy apiece, each with a static IP address. We have an old Buddy at home - my very first Buddy - which always sits in the wireless router's dock. This device has our fifth IP address and uses it to connect every other device in the home to the Internet. My faithful old Buddy channels enough bandwidth for all the devices in my home to share! The is why it is our universal modem.

My Buddy as a Universal Media Player:
My Buddy has a sophisticated sound system built-in. This sound system makes my voice calls great. But to really appreciate it, you have to listen to its musical output. This palm-sized unit is one of the best music systems ever created by humans. The same is true for the Buddy's video system too. The sound and video systems, combined with the versatility and portability, make the Buddy a true universal media players.

With the Buddy, there are no hassles of downloading and storing any music or video files. Most of the times I play multimedia directly from the Internet. All the radio stations now broadcast on the Internet waves. I can choose to play only the audio or the audio-and-video content.

I can listen to the music, holding the Buddy upto my ear like a phone. I can listen through the ear phones. I place the Buddy in a dock which is connected to speakers which can blast you away. I have such a dock and speaker system in my office. At home, my speaker systems are already connected to the Buddy through the wireless router.

I have a dock for the Buddy in my car as well. I don't need a separate music player for the car. As soon as I enter my car, I place the Buddy in the dock and play anything I want on the car's speakers. I can even route my phone calls to the car's speakers, with a mic built into my steering wheel. When there is an incoming call and I wish to answer it, the Buddy automatically mutes the music and routes the call to the speakers. It is really convenient.

Incidentally, the Buddy is also my GPS navigation system. I avoid using that functionality when I am on the road. I study the map before setting out. Once I am on the road, I just let the road take me where it goes. My wife teases me about being a typical man who will not take directions from his own Buddy! :-)

I can watch video on the Buddy's sharp and clear screen. Or, I can choose to connect it to my TV or computer monitor via a dock, and watch the video on an LCD screen. Like the speaker system, all the TV and computer monitors in my home are connected to the Buddy through the wireless router. And like music, all the video these days is available on the Internet. All the movies and music videos, as well as all the TV programs, and sports. DVDs, VCDs, VHS tapes have all become obsolete. Nobody keeps any sort of disks in their homes. Businesses like Blockbuster and Hollywood video have completely gone online and serve their movies through the Internet. And, we stream it into our TVs via the Buddy.

My Buddy as a Universal Remote:
I can use my Buddy to control any, I literally mean any device in my home. When I bring home a new device, like say a new TV, I download the remote control software for the TV onto the Buddy. Voila! My Buddy can now function as the TV's remote control. The touch-pad screen of the Buddy displays a picture of the TV remote, and I can touch it to control the TV. We can do that for pretty much every device in our home including the cooking range, the washing machine, the refrigerator, the dishwasher, etc. We can turn on or turn off the stove in the kitchen, while we are in the living room watching a movie.

In my home, we have stored the remote control software for all the devices in my old Buddy, which acts as the modem. All the other Buddies in the house can now interact with the old Buddy to access the remote control interface of any device. So, we don't have to store the remote control software in every Buddy we have in our home. Yet, we can control any device using any Buddy.

My Buddy as a Personal Computer:
For most of my computing needs, I don't require a big computer with a powerful processor and lots of memory. The memory and processing power of the Buddy, combined with its powerful web browser, are quite adequate. This is true for most other people as well. My Buddy has put the "personal" back into PCs (personal computers). How much more personal can you get with computers than the Buddy? Unless you embed a computer within your body!

Gone are the days when people stored their data files on personal hard drives. Most of the files are now stored on the Net. We have all our emails, media files (music, pictures, video), work data files (documents, spreadsheets, databases), etc. on the Internet. Even many of the software applications which are needed to work with these files are not installed on our personal machines. Web-based applications are all the rage now. I can do word processing, spreadsheets, database functions, graphics, etc. using free applications which are served to me over the Internet. As such, I hardly use 50% of the 100GB flash memory available on my Buddy.

We have only one conventional desktop computer in our home. We have it because my kids and I play a lot of computer games, which require more processing power and memory. Sometimes I use that computer as my software lab. We have LCD monitors or TVs with wireless keyboards and mouse devices in almost every room in the house, except for the kitchen and the bathrooms. We use these to connect to the Internet through our wireless router and the old Buddy, or to work with our personal Buddies. So, our Buddies pretty much take care of all our computing needs.

You see how useful and ubiquitous the Buddy has become in our lives? I bet by now even you have started to think of the Buddy as a "he" or a "she"!

Concluded for now.

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