Wireless Systems Design

Wireless Takes An Unexpected Detour

Have you ever considered how many things in life—even if they seem strangely opposite—are actually intertwined? I recently discovered this phenomenon while car shopping with a friend. Halfway through the process, I was frustrated by how long it was taking. So I blurted out, "Why are you buying a new car anyway? In just a few short years, the cars of today will be obsolete." Okay, maybe I wasn't exactly accurate in my statement. But it was over 100° outside and I was tired. Once I had started down this path, though, there was no turning back. As the sales clerk listened anxiously, my friend made me explain what I meant.

Essentially, I said that as China's economy grows, its people will be in a position to afford luxuries that once were foreign to them. One such luxury is a car. Given the total population of China, think about what would happen if one in every five people were to purchase a car. The fuel need would be astronomical. There simply wouldn't be enough supply. "Okay," my friend said. "That is really interesting, but what does it have to do with me?"

I explained that if the fuel cost becomes exorbitantly high or the fuel supply runs low, we'll need to find ways to compensate. Electric cars are one option. Another choice might be to dramatically increase the practice of telecommuting. School children could even become telecommuters. Instead of sitting inside a classroom, they may eventually interact with a teacher and fellow students via two-way cameras and a computer screen. Being a teacher, my friend found this last scenario extremely interesting.

I then admitted that despite what I had said earlier, many of these technological and cultural changes might not take place until farther in the future. But such changes are on the horizon. In many cases, wireless technology is at the heart of these emerging applications. Future cars, for example, will be wirelessly networked via Bluetooth, WLAN, or some other standard. They will connect users to a computer, telephone, or even a digital TV. Homes will allow their occupants complete access to any one of a myriad of wireless devices. Features like personalized climate control, which adjusts as you enter a room, and self-diagnosing white goods will become commonplace.

At this point in our conversation, the salesman began to look worried. Suddenly, he came back with a great offer. You could say that my unplanned detour into wireless technology saved the day. My friend bought her car at a fair price and I got to dream about the day when I'd never have to go through that headache again. Send me your thoughts at [email protected].

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