Back in 2002, Accenture produced a series of internal concept videos to show off what futuristic tech was coming down the pike. One of those videos has a gadget that looks awfully familiar to those of us living here in the Age of Google Glass.
It’s described as a “wearable services platform”, and Accenture imagines that the system will revolutionise countless exciting fields, like… package delivery. The headset — and accompanying snazzy belt computer — will save delivery drivers precious seconds in finding packages on their trucks, and precious minutes by enabling the driver to send notifications to the intended recipient of the package. But don’t worry, if you don’t have your smartphone handy, the driver can always hit you on your pager. There is no mention of creepshots.
The video explains the process of locating a package for the delivery driver of the future:
With the wearable services platform prototype Accenture demonstrates how wireless and voice-recognition technologies, coupled with embedded sensors, can free a driver’s hands and make the entire delivery process much more efficient.
“We start off the delivery process by finding the package in the back on the truck. However, instead of digging through piles of packages I’ll simply issue of voice command. Locate.”
The driver can now see through his eyepiece the exact location of the package. Sensors inside the truck will read package information through radio-frequency ID tags.
The use of RFID chips in everything (long utilised by retailers like Walmart to streamline inventory) has not yet come to every FedEx package you send. But Accenture saw RFID chips as the wave of tomorrow that would allow for their device to talk with other objects:
The driver is also wearing an RFID scanner. He picks up the package and the information in its RFID chip shows that no signature is required. The driver can then send a message to the customer via email, page or mobile phone telling them that the package has been delivered. Valuable time and potential profit is wasted on return visits when a signature is required but no one is home. The system allows the driver to contact a customer in advance of a delivery. On a website the customer can now authorise a signature release or specify new delivery instructions.
This prototype is another example of what we like to call silent commerce. That is, commerce that is conducted between smart objects. We feel that silent commerce will revolutionise the business world by making everyday objects intelligent and interactive.
Accenture’s proto-Glass didn’t make its way to the real world, but its prediction that mundane objects would soon talk to each other has never felt closer to becoming a reality.