• 02.27.14

Can Gadgets Really Tell The Future?

A new concept from an Israeli designer is surprisingly plausible.

Can Gadgets Really Tell The Future?

Future Control, from Israeli designer Dor Tal, is a concept that seems like something out of a sci-fi novel: a wristband and pico projector that can tell the future. But really the idea of such a gadget isn’t all that far-fetched. In fact, it’s already here.


In that video, you can see the project, represented as a tiny projector on a tiny tripod or a tiny projector embedded in a tiny wristband, giving information that’s somewhere between a suggestion and a prediction. “Bring your workout gear, because you’ll want to play basketball today.” “Your girlfriend is sad; get her some flowers.” It’s not exactly predicting the future, but it’s in the same ballpark.

What the project really gives a glimpse at is the future of an existing project, Google Now. Google Now is a built-in service in Android phones, and both Google Now and Future Control work by taking as much data as possible from you: your emails, your calendars, your text messages, and phone calls, your locations, your purchasing history, your taste in art, who you spend time with, where you go, what you do. Then they analyze them and present you not with the information, but with the next step.

That’s how Google Now can give you alerts like “if you want to get to your meeting on time, you’ll need to catch the 4 train now.” It got there by knowing where you are, thanks to your phone’s GPS; by knowing that you take the train rather than drive, thanks to your Google Maps search history; and by knowing that you have a meeting at a certain time, thanks to your Google Calendar. But all the tricky figuring out is in the background; what it actually does is say, hey, catch the train soon. It thinks, in other words.

Future Control seems very similar, except it’s also incorporating data from other people, which Google Now doesn’t do. In the video, Future Control reads the main character’s girlfriend’s Twitter feed to know that she’s having a bad day, and to then extrapolate that to tell the main character to buy her some flowers. It’s a cool concept (and only moderately invasive!); don’t be surprised if Google Now ends up looking like this in a couple years.


About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.