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I go into the local Walbucks for a coffee. I slide my NFC (Near Field Communication)-enabled phone near the order station's contactless terminal–through the ether goes my credit card information, Walbucks loyalty-card number, and coffee preferences (iced, no sweetener, no room for cream, thank you very much).
The Walbucks worker sees my order on the station screen, double checks that I'll take my “usual,” and goes to work. The back office server sees I've had a lot of coffee this month and gives me today's brew for half price and half price off my next Walflix hi-def movie download. Gotta love those loyalty perks! My virtual credit card is charged, and the e-ceipt is sent back to the phone.
I sit down to sip. I use the phone to browse the web, video chat with my kids (famous Cornell-educated computer scientists–Dad is so proud), and watch hi-def TV over my city's 6G wireless network. Darn, another virus just spiked my Windows Mobile 12 session. The black hatters are so good, it takes only days for the next vulnerability to be fuzzed to the surface and usually only hours after that until that flaw is exploited with a clever hack.
My Windows Mobile over-the-air update service should get it up and running once GoogleSoft engineers have worked to patch the flaw. I'll just roll back to yesterday's snapshot the next time I want to surf. Oh well. With a button press, I flick over to my corporate sandbox (an Android Linux session) and work on a presentation I'm giving tomorrow.
This corporate virtual machine, which connects only to the corporate intranet, has never been commandeered by airborne malware. That safety is important, since the engineering design I'm working on is worth millions of UDs (Universal Dollars, money we use since the U.S. dollar, Euro, and British Pound currency marriage) to black market hackers.
Properly juiced with caffeine, I'm out the door and back to my car. Of course, the car has been getting juiced up itself, via the parking lot's electric charging outlet. It's really nice not to go to gas stations anymore (they were outlawed a couple years ago, in part because of MTBE that was found to have been killing millions of people over the past several decades, and in part because the love affair with gas engines had been replaced with a more practical desire for economical and convenient electric transportation).
Yeah, it took ridiculously long to get here, but give a little credit to the government–it gave me a healthy tax kickback to take my old gas-guzzling BMW back for scrap. As I approach the car, I swipe my phone across the door and it unlocks. The technology in this car never ceases to amaze me. Over the past decade, the number of discretes in the car has continued to shrink, reversing the trend that had started with the advent of the computerized automobile.
The drive-by-wire, nav, and telematics are all running on a single multicore processor, managed by a secure operating system that separates the disparate functions onto virtual processors. Hardware consolidation has saved production cost, wiring, and weight in the car–all of which makes it cheaper for me to drive.
I'm on the way home now. My wife will be mad I stopped for coffee since I was already late from work. Some things never change.
David Kleidermacher is chief technology officer at Green Hills Software where he has designed compilers, software development environments, and real-time operating systems. He frequently publishes articles and presents papers on topics relating to embedded systems.