Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Future is Here, Are you Ready?

Carrying on the theme of last week's post about technology, there is something new under the sun.

Although an espresso coffee may give you a jolt, an Espresso book machine will blow your mind. I have yet to see the machine but I have seen videos of it and heard from someone who has seen it in action.  Basically, the machine, made by Xerox, is a copying machine on steroids.  You scroll through a menu to find the book you want, insert your credit card, and, in just four minutes--out pops the book, freshly printed!

The machine prints the cover, then the text, then it applies glue to the binding and attaches the pages.  The next step is to cut the pages to an even size, then the book is deposited in the unloading tray.  It's a lot like a vending machine that takes your money, you press the button for coffee, it drops down a cup, pours the coffee, adds a little cream and sugar, then allows you to reach in for it.

The book publisher who explained the process to me said she can't tell the difference between a book that came from her printing company and a book that was created via the Espresso machine.

So what does this mean to you and me.  It means that in the not-too-distant future, book stores like Barnes & Noble will have fewer stores, and fewer books on the shelves of the stores that do remain.  Although the machine is expensive, around $96,000, it will be more cost efficient in the long run to have people print out the book they want rather than stock a multitude of books and have to return the unsold ones.  College book stores have been trying out the machine for the last few years rather than stocking a quantity of text books that might not get sold.  Students insert their parents' credit card and print out the text book they want.  The cost of the book is the same, whether it's done this way or purchased by the book store and then by the student.

AND, if this doesn't blow your mind, here's something else!  The machine will also print in braille!  And wait, there's more.  If you happen to be dyslectic, you can ask the machine to print the book out in Daisy, a language more easily read by dyslectics.  It will also print the book in a multitude of languages--English, Spanish, French, Russian, whatever language you prefer to read in.  Books are going to be available to more people in every corner of the world than ever before.

I wonder what's in store for us as we go down this highway to the future.  Will we do away with the Government Printing Office and print our own money?  We can already print our own postage at home so this idea is not that far fetched.  Maybe we'll scan a menu, insert our plastic card, and pop out a gift for a loved one; no more schlepping from store to store looking for just the right gift.  The possibilities are endless as we've only read the first page of life's book.

The merry-go-round was invented on this day in 1871 by William Schneider of Davenport, Iowa.  I love to ride on one but let's face it, you just go round and round and get nowhere.  That can't be said of today's inventions, they are taking us to places we never dreamed possible, or even dreamed of at all.

Today's Quote:  Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.  Marie Curie.

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