Semiconductor giant Intel has taken an outside-the-box approach to shaping future technologies by hiring sci-fi writers to use their imaginations in helping engineers design chips and other products. Last year, four sci-fi writers hired by Intel produced an anthology of short stories called The Tomorrow Project, as a way of getting the juices flowing and seeing how technology might be utilized five to ten years down the road.
Intel's resident futurist and "futurecaster," Brian David Johnson, oversees the company's social-science division, which sends anthropologists and sociologists to hang out in living rooms, senior-care centers, hospitals, etc. in order to see how technology is used. As a result of their research, they developed a processor for the Google TV set-top box, since people were interested in streaming content and surfing the internet on their TVs without the need for a PC. In the U.S., the price of the device has been slashed by a third down to ninety-nine dollars due to anemic demand, but it's apparently selling like hotcakes in Europe.
Johnson believes that intelligent, recommendation-giving sensors are the wave of the future, with an emphasis on the integration of both hardware and software into those sensors. We're fast approaching the day when even The Jetsons will look antiquated.