If only…

With all the crazy technological advances that keep showing up daily, you’d think we’d all have our personal jet-packs by now. But barring that, there are a few advances I’d really like to see happen already. The first one (credit where it’s due) was stolen from my friend Ruth at lunch the other day.

– If only there were some sort of giant sensor that was linked to every cell phone, so that when you entered an area such as a movie theater or a conference room, your phone would automatically be switched to “vibrate”, and then switched back to its previous setting once you exited.

– If only there were sensors equipped for trash and recycling, that could automatically sense whether certain materials were recyclable or not based on their weight/feel/scan (I don’t know how it works, I just know it’s a good idea!). That way it wouldn’t matter if you got it wrong, or if some cities had different facilities than others – everything just goes into the same bin, and the machines take care of sorting out what’s what, so people wouldn’t feel guilty about throwing away a glass bottle if no recycling bin were present. I realize now that this is probably a somewhat Seattle-specific phenomenon, but hey…

– If only there were “fuel lights” in addition to “brake lights” on cars, so that idiot drivers who don’t realize that simply by removing your foot from the gas pedal when going up a hill, a car might actually slow down, EVEN THOUGH the brake lights weren’t lit up – that would make a lot of difference in my general stress level when driving. I drive a stickshift and am thus often inclined to simply “not accelerate” rather than “brake” in order to slow down, and by the following distance I occasionally get, people think this is a revolutionary new branch of physics or something.

– If only there were some sort of way to physically force patrons attempting to enter a bus or elevator to refrain from entering until those who had exited were clear of their path – perhaps some force field the driver would have to switch, or which would automatically activate when a “Next Stop/Floor” button was pushed, attached to a weight/motion sensor that could tell once the button pusher had successfully exited the premises. With a manual override for those times that the button gets pushed accidentally or by some obnoxious button-happy kid, of course.

-If only there were a way to account for checks you’ve written manually, and have their amounts appear subtracted in your online account balance, so you remembered that they were floating around out there uncashed. ING Direct does this when you use their system to write an electronic check, but that requires actually planning and forethought. The reason I need checks (rarely, for sure) is because I have no planning and no forethought whatsoever – I’m at a craft fair eyeing a gorgeous purse and I have no cash, or I show up empty-handed to a high school graduate’s party and figure I’ll just write her a check so she can pick her own present. Stuff like that. And of course, since these checks are so infrequent, and since I do everything else online, I immediately forget to deduct them mentally from my total, and almost inevitably screw up my own accounting. Just a simple form that allowed you to submit a check number and amount would be so, so useful. ING’s on the right track, but I’m waiting for the checking account that allows me to preemptively account for the inevitable error on my part.

– If only there were a reliable mobile telephone that could also function well for email, web browsing, and calendar-syncing, plus the other fun perks phones have nowadays like cameras and music players. Oh wait… (Have I mentioned I WANT ONE?)

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