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14 March 2007

Videos of the Future From the Past

That is, now! Prophecy in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events. Here is a series of TV spots all the way back from 1990s predicting the technologies we take for granted today. "You Will" was the name of an AT&T marketing campaign, each ad presenting a futuristic scenario narrated by Tom Selleck. While some of the innovations promised by the ads have materialized, ironically few of them were actually influenced by AT&T.

They all begin with "Have you ever..." and end with "You will. And the company that will bring it to you is AT&T." The proposed innovations included:

  • Telemedicine
  • Grocery self checkout machines that would process an entire cart at a time without the groceries needing to be removed, presumably via RFID or something similar ("Have you ever checked out at the supermarket, a whole cart at a time?")
  • Software agent ("Have you ever had an assistant who lived in your computer?")
  • Teleconferencing ("Have you ever shown up for a meeting in your bare feet?")
  • GPS navigation system ("Have you ever crossed the country without stopping to ask directions?")
  • Wifi/WAN ("Have you ever sent a fax from the beach?")
  • Wristwatch cell phones ("Have you ever received a call, on your watch?")
  • ID consolidation ("Have you ever renewed your drivers license at an ATM?")
  • Real-time online collaboration, envisioned as two students teaching each other their native languages over videophone ("Have you ever studied with a classmate thousands of miles away?") and, in a separate ad, as a father reading a bed-time story to his child remotely, while they both view the same page of the story on their individual laptops.

An interesting view of today from the past. What is your view of the future?

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