Is the future finally here? Oddly, the XBox One release confirms it.

We didn’t expect a video game controller to seal the deal on living science fiction style.

But it’s the most banal uses of innovation that create widespread adoption. Microsoft has just released the new XBox One, with wildly improved Kinect sensor tech.

Seriously, the new Kinect tech is unbelievable. It can probably see what religion you are.

XBox One has widescreen Skype capabilities (for your group activities and phonotelephote needs) and voice commands. “Computer. Computer? Hello, computer?”

“The new Kinect can also see under our clothes. No, it’s not scanning our bodies, but it can intuit skeletons and muscles. The new human-based physics model helps Kinect not only detect movement, but also tell which muscles are in use and which are relaxed. On screen, we saw these differences represented as red (stressed) and green (relaxed) muscles.” – Mashable

So a camera that can see under your skin and a computer that responds to your voice and a videophone that shows your living room to the other side of the globe costs $500.

That’s the future, right?

On Saturday my boyfriend and I went to Maker Faire. Afterwards, we had bubble tea in a Palo Alto cafe with a hacker friend who works at Marketo.

I asked her, “Do you feel like there’s an accelerating sense that the future is finally happening, this year?”

She said yes; she said she hears it from people around her too. “The cyberpunk dystopias are all coming true, and yet there’s good things about them that we didn’t foresee.” Like the 3D printing boom.

There were dozens of 3D printing companies at Maker Faire; they had their own section on the map.

I remember the early consumer 3D printing machines at SIGGRAPH in 1999, how miraculous the fragile little objects seemed. At Maker Faire the Deezmaker people gave me a stretchy bracelet and a pendant I couldn’t actually break. They were printed on their Bukobot “Green” model, which makes objects with a beautiful glittering finish from biodegradable PLA. (In 1985 I read about plastic made from corn in “Footfall” and it seemed impossible; right now the cup my iced coffee is in was made from corn.)

I stopped by the Shapeways booth to handle all the materials; their new Premium Silver is GORGEOUS. The Klein Bottle Opener in Glossy Antique Bronze is as covetable a geek goodie as you’ll ever find. The ceramics look great too.

Printed body parts are developing fast; this week NASA announced that pretty soon we’ll be able to order “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” as well. “Don’t print guns, print food!”

Think about how Big Data and the Quantified Self will change healthcare.

Right now we don’t know exactly what causes the Marin Breast Cancer Epidemic. But we could know soon. Put a FitBit or a Scanadu Scout (just released and hailed as a real-life Tricorder) on every lady and give the data to cloud-based Big Data apps.

Electric Cars? Tesla just paid off almost a half a billion in Federal loans- nine years early.

I saw a Tesla roadster on the way to work last week- it blew by me like I was standing still. It was red flake and looked amazing. I saw a Google self-driving car on the same strip of 80 East earlier this year; I gave it a wide berth but it seemed to be driving as well as I was.

Crowdfunding is changing the world.

Every startup at Maker Faire had a Kickstarter or an IndieGoGo. “Where’s your Kickstarter at?” I asked blue ribbon winner Eric Sagotsky, who’s created a beautiful 3D vis tool/art piece called ModelBox3D. I just assumed they had one. It’s at 10% today. We can crowdfund space, if private industry doesn’t take us there first.

Seriously, with this kind of support available to inventors and makers, innovation is being supercharged. We can literally pay to have our dreams made real. And a lot of us have been dreaming about the future all our lives.

this post originally appeared on the T324 Blog.

This entry was posted in Tech news of the weird on by .

About Suzanne Forbes

Suzanne Forbes is a traditionally trained figurative artist who makes documentary art of queer culture and Berlin life. She also works in mixed media. She is a former New Yorker who immigrated to Berlin with her third husband and their two cats. Her work is crowdfunded by the support of her Patrons on Patreon; you could help! In previous lives Suzanne was a graffiti artist in downtown NY, a courtroom artist for CBS and CNN, a penciller for DC Comics on Star Trek, and a live-drawing chronicler of Bay Area alternative culture.

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