Mark Gilbert's Blog

Science and technology, served light and fluffy.

Moments of weird, cool pause

Last week, my family and I drove back from Florida.  We broke the driving up over three days, and stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio.  For those of you not familiar, Great Wolf Lodge (GWL) is an indoor water park and resort.  We stayed at the one in Sandusky, Ohio last year, and the girls loved it.

GWL hands out colored wristbands that you need to wear while you are at the hotel and water park, to let the staff know you had really paid to be there.  Last year at Sandusky, our room key was a standard credit-card sized piece of plastic you swiped.  This year, we found the room key was actually an RFID chip embedded into the adult wristbands (the girls just got straight plastic ones).  Apparently they rolled this out starting in 2006, and have been upgrading their resorts over the years (here is an RFID Journal article about this from 2006).

In addition to opening your hotel room, you could charge things to your account by letting the cashiers at the various stores and restaurants scan your wristband (and ask for your last name as a confirmation).  Even the external doors to the building had RFID readers that would unlock the doors when it scanned a valid wristband.

It meant you never had to take anything else with you while you were in the building – no keys, no wallet, no plastic credit-card key.

Science fiction stories abound with people being able to identify themselves, tie into their bank accounts, etc., with nothing more than a retina scan, or a chip embedded into their hand, or even their DNA.  No one loses their keys or drops their wallet in a science fiction story.

That’s what this felt like.  A science fiction story made real.

And I felt naked.

I’ve said for a while that I would love to have a computer embedded in my body so that I could unlock doors, start my car, pay for things, take a cell call, send an email, and pull up the news – all without any external devices.  However, I can’t help but think I may not be able to surmount the weirdness that would go with it. I would love the convenience, but I’m sure each time there would be a moment of "boy this is weird and cool!"

I wonder if my kids – or my grandkids – would have any such moments of pause if this became commonplace in the next 20 years?  Probably not.

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June 28, 2012 - Posted by | General

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