My grandmother was born in 1899 and died in 1989. Sometimes I wonder about all of the things she witnessed during her long lifetime. And even though it doesn’t seem like she’s been gone long, I also realize how much has happened in the world since she left it. I remember once explaining to her how fax machines worked. She marveled at the idea that one could send a piece of paper over a telephone wire, as she put it.

Some 20 years later – a generation since – and society has come to expect relatively lightning-speed advancements. We can communicate wirelessly around the world; we can use brain-machine interface technology to control robotic limbs through brain activity; we can work alongside other nations to maintain a crew in orbit 220 miles above the Earth for nearly nine continuous years.
This month’s cover story is about future technology — specifically, about technology that may someday have an integral place in your work, in the security industry.  In the article “Game Changers” (see page 48), author Bill Zalud writes about how systems integrators can capitalize on new technology by studying and researching; by quantifying and evaluating so they can demonstrate the cost-benefit analysis of the technology to their clients; and by recognizing that there is no one single technology that provides a complete solution.
The article also looks at more than 10 different technologies that either have limited applications currently or are still in development. These are technologies that are considered “game changers.” They may not make today’s security technology obsolete, but they will make it pale by comparison.
For example, surface computing.
I first got a glimpse of surface computing in Japan, on an editors’ trip hosted by Panasonic System Solutions Co., when we visited the Panasonic Future World Showcase. Walk up to “the wall” and touch it any place.
With surface computing, instead of a keyboard and mouse, the user interacts directly with a touch-sensitive screen – and the future of surface computing could also include a wide variety of graphical, textual and tactile activities. The author shares that, “If it catches on, and that’s a big if, surface computing could easily become a welcome specialty tool of enterprise security executives who will see value in better managing certain situations involving objects such as buildings, floors, vehicles, cameras, doors, security officers on patrol and emergency responders. In the long run, the development may lend itself to a next-generation alarm monitoring interactive, object-oriented display.”
My favorite future technology described in “Game Changers” is being used in Major League baseball, but its potential applications are stunning. The author writes, “Already in beta testing at Giant’s park, the system can pinpoint where a ball was hit, the ball’s speed and the runners throughout a play. It can also show how long it took a ball to be returned to the infield. One aim (beyond making money through fan subscriptions to the service) is to create a whole new book full of often-neglected defense statistics such as outfielders’ arm strength and base-running efficiency.”
Picture it: someday you may be creating solutions for your clients that enable them to sit around a “surveillance table” and respond to events based on very detailed information. For example, an intruder drives onto the property of a distribution center, loads up some high-value electronic merchandise, and speeds away. Through the capabilities of his security system, your client is able to not only view and capture the license plate of the vehicle, but also the speed and direction it moved. Instant wireless communication with a security patrol enables responders to cut off the burglar’s path within seconds.
Never mind what my grandmother would have said – I’m impressed!