10 Things Tom Selleck and ATT Got Right

ATTIn 1993, AT&T released their “You Will” commercial campaign.  These commercials showcased future technology and how it could be integrated to make everyday life easier. The narrator, Tom Selleck, would say “have you ever..” at the beginning of the ad and after the future tech was showcased,  he would say “you will…and the company that will bring it to you, is AT&T.’  During a recent conversation about the comparison of Back to the Future part 2 and the present, Andy brought up these ads and I kept saying “we have that” throughout the three ads I watched.  Below you will find the tech listed in the ATT commercial and the equivalent of what is out on the market today.

1. E-Reading.

In these ads there is a person sitting in a building touching a screen.  There is a book on the screen and the pages are flipping.  Sounds like reading on your iPad right?  Well, this looked more like a traditional television screen, you know with the curved screen, but nonetheless the same idea.  Wikipedia says that the idea of the e-book can date back as far as the 1930′s.  However, the first official electronic books came about later in the 1960′s with the NLS project and the FRESS project.  E-books have come a long way since then.  We can now download them (to almost any device) faster than we can say most of the titles.  AT&T was right on this prediction, it is possible and they do currently offer devices and services that can get you e-books.

2. Turn-by-Turn GPS

Another future tech demonstrated in the “You Will” ads is turn-by-turn GPS.  The ‘GPS’ being displayed looked more like a cross between a portable DVD player and a Sega gamegear, but the navigation graphics and voice directions were pretty much spot on with how it looks, sounds and works today.  Furthermore, just as in the latter, AT&T provides a network and devices that can “bring you” turn-by-turn GPS.

3. Tablet with Network

In the AT&T commercial, there is a guy sending a fax on the beach using an AT&T EO Personal Communicator.  This was an actual product AT&T had out in 1993.  It was a pretty awesome gadget.  The EO had a cell phone, modem, fax, microphone, calendar, database program and word processor all built-in.  It was about the 5th tablet to ever be released and although the popularity didn’t last long, there would only be two more tablet products released before Apple would revolutionize the tablet world forever with the 2010 release of the iPad.  If tablet technology blows your skirt up,  then definitely checkout the One Laptop per Child Program, they have made incredible advances in tablet technology in order to promote bringing education to the impoverished and uneducated children around the world.  It’s funny how things come full circle when you consider that Allan Kay invented the first tablet in 1968 to be a “powerful educational tool.”

4. Buying Tickets Electronically

As the narrator says: “[have you ever] ..bought concert tickets from a cash machine,” as a girl uses an ATM to pick a stadium seat section out on the screen and then purchase the tickets.  Airlines started using electronic ticketing the next year in 1994.  Soon this would reach concert and event ticketing, but would soon evolve into what we all now know as mobile ticketing.  The ability to purchase and then use the electronic receipt to show that you have a ticket…the last time I called to buy a plane ticket, I’m pretty sure I was charged a small fee for not purchasing online, no turning back now.

5. Video Calling

It turns out that video calling was actually thought up in 1910.  Through its advances, the discovery of our modern-day video compression was derived.  AT&T actually displayed the technology at the World’s Fair in 1950.  Since then, video calling and AT&T have evolved, but once more they have made good on prediction.  Hopefully Skype or FaceTime is coming to your mind.  To read more on the history of video calling visit www.tely.com.

6. Voice Activated Locks

In the commercial, there is a woman walking towards her door with an arm full of groceries and says “I’m here” to the door.  Then the lock lights up and the word “verified” appears and she opens the doors and enters her home.  Talk about Ultra-Convenient right!?  Wel,l it has definitely become a reality, but most voice activated door locks like the SoriKey are made with the senior citizen in mind.  But in our age of smartphones, we do have locking systems that connect to apps on our phones.  The Lockitron was a Kickstarter.com backed project that will fit to any deadbolt and gives you the ability to lock and unlock the door with your phone or the traditional way of turning the knob.

7. Medical History Stored in Medical Card

The scene shows a man and a doctor in the hospital.  The man hands the doctor a card that he inserts into a computer, instantly the medical history starts to load and appear on the screen.  I’m by far no expert on anything medical, but I am fairly positive that most doctors can pull your records based on name, DOB and other identifying factors.  I know that technology is the reason that doctors have that ability, but I still really like the idea presented.  Imagine if our drivers licence or medical insurance card stored vital details about our medical history or conditions that any Doctor or EMT could view on the spot…goes a little further than the “organ donor” or a diabetes symbol.

8. Telecommuting from Remote Locations

I watched the guy standing barefoot in a hut on the water as he took part in a meeting on his laptop and thought, “that’s totally a reality”.  AT&T is definitely a provider for services and products that make this possible, so once more thanks for sticking to your promises!  As a homepreneur myself and working via telecommute for part  of the last two years, I can definitely say its a great product of technology.  Through the use of global cellular networks and the internet, Skype, Google+ Hangouts, Facetime, etc. people can stay home for a family emergency and still work or even make a meeting that inclement weather kept them from.

9. Video on Demand

In this commercial there is a group of kids in a living room picking a movie.  One kid flips through a menu and picks out a sci-fi movie.  The narrator talks about being able to “watch the movie you want to..when you want to.”  Well just so you know Mr. Narrator, I love video on demand.  I am an avid user and it’s totally great being able to que up virtually any movie.  And while AT&T does offer digital TV services that do include this, you cannot leave out places like Netflix and Hulu.

10. Distance Teaching

This is another technology that is pretty widely used in our current society.  This technology does also tie into what makes telecommuting so easily possible.  What is interesting about distance teaching is that it started as far back as the 1700′s.  Our technologies have sped that process up tenfold as well as added the feature of video to it.  Once again AT&T proved good on their word, they do bring us the services and products that make this a reality.


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