Thursday, September 1, 2011

What's Next? by Debbie Kump

This week, I’m shaking things up a little with a guest post by the brilliant Debbie Kump. Enjoy!

These days, technological innovations occur at an amazing rate. When I was in Fourth grade, my Girl Scout Troop went on a tour of a computer because none of us had ever seen one before. The machine (a single computer, I kid you not) took up an entire room the size of our local McDonalds. When I went to college, my roommate’s desktop Apple was as powerful as the computers used to launch the Apollo Astronauts to the Moon. Nowadays, computers of that speed can fit in the palm of your hand. My third year teaching, I instructed my Eighth grade students in Seattle how to surf the Web since many had never been on the Internet before. And last week, I showed my sons a manual typewriter like the one I used to write stories as a teen. They thought it was cool to watch the arms swing up and jam together when they pressed several keys at once. Personally, I never found it that cool when my fingers were covered in ink and White-Out as I tried to correct mistakes, hoping to prevent myself from retyping the entire page.
With our culture’s increasing dependence on 3G and 4G cell phones, I have often wondered what will come next. One day at breakfast about two years ago, my husband (who is a bit of a futurist) described the idea of contact lenses that contained virtual computer screens accessible through the blink of an eye. His suggestion inspired my debut novel: an Apocalyptic Thriller entitled, 7G.
Building off our current 3G and 4G technology, 7G takes a leap into the near future when Smartphones will be obsolete. In this story, everyone uses contact lens-sized, extended wear, virtual computer screen and keyboard Digital Optic/Ophthalmic Transmitters, collectively referred to as “DOTS,” and small mobile uplinks. In the military, submariners use night vision capabilities to safely navigate from one part of the sub to another, while Marines stationed to regions of conflict within the perpetually war-torn areas of the Middle East use infrared heat signature modes to locate their enemies…and ensure their own survival. Civilians use eye and ear DOTS to surf the Internet, send a text, or read ebooks. Kids use them to watch movies and play on-line video games. Even babies piggyback off their parents’ mobile uplinks, napping to classical melodies.
With the upcoming conversion to 7G Network allowing instantaneous optical and audio recording, limitless military and civilian applications abound. Yet an unexpected programming glitch proves fatal, spelling disaster for the nation. In the aftermath of 7G, the fates of college sophomore Erik Weber and submariner Alyssa Kensington entwine, making the reader wonder if these protagonists will escape and manage to survive in a crippled world.
While editing my manuscript for 7G on a flight to my parents’ house over the Christmas holidays, my husband whipped out the SkyMall magazine, pointing to a pair of glasses that provided a GPS digital reading of the wearer’s location.
I blinked, studying the glasses again. A chill ran down my spine.
“Freaky,” I told him, my pen poised over a scene where compulsive gamers developed eye shakes when their pupils flitted rapidly back and forth to reach the desired keys on their virtual keyboard eye DOTS.
Then this summer, as my husband was enjoying Eoin Colfer’s recent Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex, he paused to have me read a paragraph. In this selection, a centaur named Foaly placed a monocle over one eye to interface with a virtual system through a series of blinks and winks rather than using hardwired equipment.
Barely believing my eyes, I read the paragraph a second time, wondering when this type of technology will no longer be a work of fiction. Will a time come when all information is easily accessible on contact lenses like the eye DOTS from 7G?
Once again, these advancements beg to question, What’s next?

Thanks for that amazing look at the possible future! After graduating from Cornell University with degrees in Biology and Education, Debbie Kump taught middle and high school science in Maui, Seattle, and the Twin Cities and worked as a marine naturalist aboard a whale watch and snorkel cruise. Debbie lives in Minnesota with her husband, two sons, and three Siberian huskies. She especially enjoys writing early each morning; coaching youth soccer, hockey, lacrosse, and baseball; and dogsledding her kids to school. Her published works include the Apocalyptic Thriller, 7G (now available in ebook and paperback at Amazon, Barnes and, World Castle Publishing, and many other online vendors) and the Young Adult Romance, Exiled to the North (released this October in ebook and paperback from Whiskey Creek Press). For more information, please visit her online.
 You can find 7G on, Barnes and Noble, or right from World Castle Publishing (20% discount on paperbacks with code UYTQJ2F9).