The Future Is Here
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Mac Funamizu's Gadget Designs of the Future

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Welcome back to MangoBot, a biweekly column about Asian futurism by TokyoMango blogger Lisa Katayama. Mac Funamizu is a tech geek, designer, and futurist who has created quite a lot of buzz among design circles for his innovative gadgets from the future. The 38-year old Tokyo native has always loved Apple, Google, and Starbucks, but he always felt inconvenienced by the extra steps involved in using them. (Why mouth off a complex multi-conditional order of coffee when you could just customize your cup of joe online? Why doesn't Google Maps give you more than just a topographic image of what you're looking at?) At first, his ideas were just rough sketches in his Moleskine. But then he started posting his neat, provocative ideas online, and now developers are contacting him to try and make some of them a reality.

Last fall, Funamizu starting formalizing his drawings using programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, and Shade, and posted them on his web site. The blogosphere quickly picked up on them, and that led to interest from developers. "In the future, gadgets will be much more intuitive to use," says Funamizu. Here are some of his and my personal favorites:


1. The Looking Glass
In a series of posts he calls The Future of Internet Search, Funamizu explores different ways in which an intelligent transparent looking glass can help us get information without having to type tons of info into a desktop or handheld. Curious how nutritious that apple is? Want to know what the cityscape in front of you looked like 30 years ago? Just slide the looking glass over to get the info you desire. "I always wondered why I have to use keywords to search for an object that I don't know about," he says. "In order to get the right results, you have to use the right words to describe it. It's a complete paradox."


2. Bookshelves for Super-Lazy People
Funamizu believes that bookshelves of the future will either be sliding hangers that rest under your desk to neatly tuck away and keep open pages intact (similar mechanically to a file cabinet), or they'll be staggered wall units with sliding tabs so that you can sort through and reorder books without pulling each one out. "I'm very lazy," Funamizu says. "With this, I'd be able to put all the magazines and books scattered on my desk away."

3. Desktop Holography
What if the thing you were thinking about buying showed up as a 3D image that projected out of your monitor? Or if your favorite web celeb showed up in front of your face as a holographic reality? "My kids would be so happy if their favorite cartoon characters popped up from the computer screen," Funamizu says. "Also, it'd be so convenient if I could check 3D models floating in the air. I think I'd be able to create better items that way."


4. Unmistakable Shampoo & Conditioner Containers
Funamizu believes that shampoo and conditioner will be much easier to tell apart if they were stacked on top of each other, not placed side by side so that the labels are obscured. I don't know what to think, but I like the corner design. It's space-efficient and space-agey. I think the yellow meter on the side tells you how much is left so you can gauge when you need to step out to buy refills.


5. Highlight-the-Line-I'm-On Plug-in
Reading things online could be a huge pain, in part because you can't put a crease in the page where you last left off. A lot of times, I end up just reading articles half way through and forgetting about them shortly thereafter. This solves that. "I read lots of blogs, but I lose the line I'm on all the time," Funamizu says. "Please, someone, develop this plug-in!" Images by Mac Funamizu

Petit Invention [Mac Funamizu's blog]