IT Trends :: Thursday, July 20, 2006

Opinion

Humans Are Animals, Too

By Terry Calhoun

How often do you have bright ideas that you are at least momentarily convinced would make you fabulously wealthy if you had: (a) the time, (b) the connections, and (c) the business savvy to make something of it? I’m not sure if this is a common thing for others, but it happens to me with some frequency. I have a ready supply of personal “idea inventions” that that are making someone else very rich.

I keep getting reminded of past “idea inventions” in the strangest places and at the strangest times. This time, it was in the San Francisco airport, between my flight from Honolulu to SF, and my later flights to Minneapolis, then to Detroit. In the middle of “Brainy Robots Start Stepping Into Daily Life” (New York Times, Tuesday, July 18, 2006, A1, C16), which I was reading avidly because the book I just finished also had a theme of artificial intelligence, I was reminded of an idea from 15 or 20 years ago which is now a commercial product.

It’s called Poseidon. The idea is simple: the water in a swimming pool is constantly scanned by computers, which identify certain kinds of movements of the bodies in the water and notify lifeguards when someone is likely to be drowning. It’s currently in use in Europe. I suspect that the main reason that it’s not yet in the U.S. is the same reason I thought it was an attractive idea in the first place. Once it’s in use in the United States it is likely to become a “standard” so quickly that every public pool will need to have one for liability reasons. (That makes it tough to introduce, because no one wants to be the first to spend money on something that no one has to have yet.)...

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Campus Technology 2006
in Boston, July 31-August 3, 2006

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