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Lesson 4: Revolutionary New Technologies

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an example of a technology that facilitates mobile computing. At a toll booth RFID is what initiates a transaction to automatically debit your travel account. In doing so it dramatically speeds up the process of paying a toll, and it expands capacity virtually rather than physically. Think about taking inventory by riding a bicycle through a warehouse with a portable reader, or as host Bob Cringley does in the documentary, on a Segway. We are also just beginning to understand the potential of virtual worlds. It is possible that sites like Second Life will revolutionize business meetings and commerce. Maybe someday we will offer our classes in a virtual world!

Segment 1: RFID

RFID is a technology that is early in its lifespan. Its potential is great as new ways to use it are discovered. An early application was toll collection E-ZPass-type systems sped up toll collections and added capacity to bridges, tunnels and roads electronically rather than through physical expansion.

RFID is being promoted for all types of applications from inventory control to custom messaging. RFID is a focal point for discussion of innovation, the role of standards, interoperability, and the problems of adopting a new technology.

Segment 2: Second Life Second

Life offers an example of an application that began much like a game, but has evolved into another platform to reach consumers and to conduct business. Second Life opens the discussion of virtual worlds and virtual organizations. Now that there is a virtual world, will you go to the virtual mall on your PC to meet friends? Will you buy goods at the virtual mall, which is not much different than online commerce?


  • Inside the Future: Surviving the Technology Revolution, Chapter 4: The Power of Online Communities