Introducing: the Hypersonic Soundbeam
Warren Ellis has just blogged about this amazing invention, which I remember noticing two or three years ago in the project list over at the MIT Media Lab website (can't remember whether it was the US or European one).
Back then the idea was in an early developmental stage, but of the numerous, all quite far out projects that the Media Lab folks were tinkering on I was particularly mindblown by this piece of technomagic, capable of inaudibly shooting a beam of sound through the air. When the beam hits its target, "the sound waves disperse and the audio portion of the message magically becomes audible at that particular point."
Of course, as soon as I heard of such a thing being developed, I caught every opportunity to wax rhapsodically about the implications, ranting and raving with all my friends. They politely listened, but seemed mostly skeptical that such a thing could ever exist. After a while, we all forgot about it.
And guess what? It's back right here, right now, being released complete with a phone number to schedule your own personal demonstration. I'm sure you can all see the revolutionary import of this thing (not that revolutionary techno-gadgets are not coming thick and fast these days; this one just particularly interests me). If you can't, read the articles for a few examples, or contact your pineal gland to obtain an imagination (available free of charge to dedicated individuals: see the Scholarships Office).
Seeing such unbelievable possibilities materialize into reality is what makes me appreciate living in such "interesting times", in the Chinese curse sense. And let me assure you of one thing: I have put in my share of resistance to that appreciation. Yet, every time I am confronted by something like this, I am forced to give thanks for being alive, precisely here and now a tiny drop lost inside this particular curve of the cosmic datastream.