BT has no great record of predicting what the big future applications of technology will be, says Graham Cosier, head of applications at the telco. But Cosier has given a glimpse of some future developments BT is working on, including food with chips, and the healthy cyborg.
Cosier laid out some possible futures while visiting New Zealand as part of a technology showcase, set up to accompany the stop-off of the BT Challenge yachts in the Antipodes.
He said BT is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a 'penny PC', a cheap processor which could be inserted into food packaging so the consumer could access a record of all the treatments the food and its ingredients have had.
But this stuff is child's play compared to some of the other visions. Not only might our televisions and stereos call up repair stations and download new software, the human body may one day do the same, Cosier says. Online physiological monitoring via implants would report the condition of the user's body so he or she could take corrective action, or report to a doctor.
Laboratory experiments have succeeded in implanting small amounts of gold into biological molecules, where they might act as contacts for electrical signals. These signals could set off a response in the body to generate more of a particular protein or other substance to restore equilibrium.
Cosier showed video footage of a man with a particular variant of Parkinson's disease losing his tremor and being able to walk and finely control his fingers when two 'transponders' implanted in his body were remotely activated to steady his movements.