At a recent event at the Chan Zuckerberg BioHub, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he has plans for wearables that can read your mind.
So, that’s OK then.
There has been much talk about the next phase of wearables. Elon Musk talks about his NeuraLink brain interface. His thesis is that fingers and thumbs are simply out of date when it comes to inputting data into our brains. We need to use our eyes as the inteface. It seems that Zuckerberg has a similar idea.
We have also talked about how redundant our current view of a computer is. Douglas Adams referred to our computers are typewriters with screens. Phones, of course, are a little different because they are properly personal computers and the screen is the keyboard.
Perhaps, then, somewhere between Neuralink technology and typewriters/phones does lies wearables.
Zuckerberg thinks that, even without implanting anything, wearables will soon be able to allow you to control your brain enough to type and will have enough power to control an extra limb (if that is what you want to do).
Before we set off down the tried and trusted road of assuming that the Facebook Chief is actually after our data – all our brain’s data – he and Musk are not alone.
Apple is touting its next watch which will come with all sorts of medical wizardry inside, from heart monitors, to nutrition monitors, sleep monitors and more. Tim Cook believes that healthcare is the Next Big Thing for technology to revolutionise. And he might be right.
Amongst all this overpoweringly healthy deliciousness, however, are a couple of practical thoughts.
The moment you cross the line (or even look like you might) between technology and medicine you need to add at least five years to any timeline. If you think that communications regulators are last century (the hedgehogs on the digital super highway), you simply haven’t met the Federal Drug Administration, or its counterparts around the world. If one thing goes wrong (as has been the case in several areas, particularly Parkinson’s) you can add 10 more years before seeing any products.
The other is data. Now that we have been spooked (mainly by Facebook) about what is happening to our data and how much money is being made from it, then the rules will need to be drawn up in advance. And that will take several years, given the polarised opinions on how data is used.
With data and Facebook in the spotlight (crosshairs even) in these politically charged times, wearables might one day be able to do all the things that Zuckerberg believes they will. But it will be a long time before you and I can buy a pair of glasses or a wristband that can do anything that comes close to their vision.