Technology is awesome; there’s no denying that. We live in the era of streaming video, instant communication, and easier access to information than ever before. People have used technology to obtain riches beyond anyone’s wildest dreams – the forming of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other huge modern web-based companies have revolutionized society as we know it.
But how technology excites me is not when you have the shiniest web interface or groundbreaking new experimental devices. It excites me when technology is used to bring previously difficult to access information to the masses, especially when this information has artificially high barriers to entry. This is why I love the idea of using high-speed video to analyze a pitcher’s mechanics and obtain accurate kinematic and kinetic data about the baseball throw using three $150 cameras and a $50 software package! Commercially available packages cost at least $50,000, but with some ingenuity, hacking, and a passion for the subject material, real results are possible. Just five years ago the idea of doing something like this was completely unthinkable; today, it is well within our reach.
The Wii homebrew community is another excellent example of this. A few years ago, gyroscopic sensors costs hundreds of dollars and required extensive electrical engineering experience to use in practice. Today, these sensors are commonly found in the Wiimote and communicate over known Bluetooth protocols. Using a $60 controller and some basic wiring, you can have your very own accelerometer package for motion capture purposes.
Arduino microcontrollers also fall under this category – a low-cost, easy-to-understand introduction to simple electrical engineering and computer programming brings the ability to make all sorts of crazy ideas into reality.
For those with an entrepreneurial mind – or better yet, a hacker’s mind – the possibilities are endless. When barriers to entry are swiftly demolished by technology so that the average man with a dream can achieve the unthinkable, that’s what gets me excited.