When I was a youngster, the fanciest gadget I had was a pair of “laser” guns that detected whether or not the user was hit by the other player. They were a lot of fun to play with, and I spent quite a long time trying to figure out how they worked.
It wasn’t until I discovered that the remote control to our television in the living room set them off that I realized these ’80s blasters were anything but advanced laser weapons. Those are the breaks, but I didn’t lose hope that one day all the gadgets we saw in movies like Star Wars and TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation would become a reality.
Fast forward to 2012. We’re in a new world and almost everything I once submitted to be simple fantasy has become a reality. We’re talking and video conferencing with people using devices that fit in our pocket, I can talk to a computer and have it perform searches and other simple tasks for me, and the greatest collection of human knowledge is accessible in an instant.
Along the way, there have been some remarkable consumer products that redefined how I thought about the future of technology. These gadgets may not be marvels of science by today’s standards, but they did set the stage for my personal take on technology for many years to come.