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October 08, 2005
How New York could become a high-tech utopia
Last week, The New York Times ran a fascinating piece on Korea's high-tech utopia - a man-made island off the South Korean coast, about 40 miles from Seoul, that has embraced the notion of ubiquitous computing. This city of the future is being built from scratch and, if all goes according to plan, will become a real-life urban metropolis boasting a ubiquitous computing lifestyle (a so-called "U-Life") by the year 2014. In this U-City, all major information systems will be hooked together into a vast network, and computers will be built into houses, streets, buildings -- basically anything that can be wired for computing.
So what are the characteristics of the U-City? Well, there will be "public recycling bins that use radio-frequency identification technology to credit recyclers every time they toss in a bottle," in addition to "pressure-sensitive floors in the homes of older people that can detect the impact of a fall and immediately contact help" and "cellphones that store health records and can be used to pay for prescriptions." There will even be a central park in the middle of New Songdo modeled on New York's Central Park. According to a research director at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, a similar type of urban metropolis of the same scale has never even been contemplated in the States: "There are really no comparable comprehensive frameworks for ubiquitous computing. U-city is a uniquely Korean idea."
Who knows? Maybe one day, New Yorkers will wake up to RFID tags on garbage dumpsters and vending machines operated by cellphone.
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