Your team recently won the Greater Baltimore Technology Council's collegiate "Mosh Pit" business plan competition with a digital utility metering device. What does it do exactly?
- David Dalrymple
David Dalrymple in briefAge: 10
What are some typical applications of this device? For instance, could I log on at work and tell if I left the coffeepot on at home?
Sure. You could even make coffee from work if you wanted to.
Another application is in a restaurant setting - what I call "fine computerized dining" and involves computers at each table. You could have your PDA transfer your dietary restrictions and food preferences to a restaurant computer, and the restaurant computer could come up with a menu custom-created for you. Then you could play trivia games with others in the restaurant on this same computer while waiting for your meal, and then use the same computer to check out automatically (no waiting to get your bill, waiting again for the wait staff to pick up your credit card, waiting again to get the credit card slip to sign).
The restaurant can also use these computers to automatically update the menu if a dish becomes unavailable (so as not to have customers drooling over items they won't be able to have), lower prices to increase sales in, say, overstocked vegetables or increase prices when, say, steak becomes low in supply, have paint programs installed to keep children busy without always buying new coloring books or special child menus or paper table covers, advertise items the restaurant sells (special hot sauces, mugs, shirts, etc.), and much more.
Was your age ever an issue between you and your team members?
No. It wasn't a problem at all.
Are you interested in business?
Yes. I would like to start the company I.D.E.A.S. to sell the IDEA Protocol.
The IDEA Protocol is a communications system that alleviates many of the problems I see with electronic device communication. It allows any electronic devices to transfer data, regardless of their "smart-ness" or processing power. Such a project is a dubious undertaking, but precursors' work, such as Jini, proves that the technology is possible, though not necessarily profitable.
I believe that with a combination of innovation, good design, widespread marketing and financial good sense, such a product should be viable.
Are you talking about something along the lines of a "smart kitchen," where the refrigerator knows when you are out of milk?
A smart kitchen is one of many relatively unimportant consequences of the IDEA Protocol. It wouldn't be much of an innovation, since plenty of smart kitchen products are readily available.
What is Jini?
Jini was originally touted as a Java-based platform for "smart " operation. However, though its uses are far and wide, they do not include "smart everything, from letter opener to mainframe." That's kind of what I'm trying to do.
By the way, a smart letter opener, though seemingly useless, could keep track of incoming letters, and even provide information about the letter being opened (perhaps lowering the risk of anthrax exposures) from some kind of RFID (Radio Frequency IDentifier, a dumb system which can be queried for a single long number) inside the envelope, linking to e-mails or information packets on the Web. For more on Jini, see wwws.sun.com/software/jini/.
You presented at Richard Saul Wurman's famous Technology Entertainment Design conference last year. What was it like rubbing elbows with Martha Stewart and AOL's Steve Case?