I’m angry at our scientists and engineers. It’s 2017 and we still don’t have computer-gauntlets. I can only blame myself. Elementary School Matt spent hours dutifully devising detailed schematics of the single greatest tool known to science fiction.
And yet, instead of pursuing a career as a mad scientist and inventor, I became a blogger.
I’ve started mining my childhood for creative ideas. There were four things I was awesome at as a child:
- Watching bad movies and afternoon cartoons
- Eating after dinner mints
- Staring off into space for hours at a time
- Imagining ridiculous science-fiction technology
Over the course of my childhood, I “invented” some things I think the world could use. For example, I once dreamed up a replacement for traditional glasses that looked very similar to the new SnapChat things. My idea was to have cameras mounted to the outside of the glasses that could zoom in on things to make it easier for people with extreme nearsightedness.
Most of my ideas revolved around wearable technology. I might have been a clever child, but I wasn’t original.
Of all the technology my childhood promised me, there is only one piece we’ve never developed. We might live in the future but it isn’t the future I want we have it.
I want my computer-gauntlet. I want it now.
It started with The Dungeonmaster
I don’t remember where or when I saw the movie The Dungeonmaster. Couldn’t have been over eight or nine and might have been even younger.
Even now, I don’t remember the movie. I spent the last hour searching with all of my Google-Fu just to find the title. I could only remember two things:
- The protagonist had a computer-gauntlet capable of shooting lasers, and
- It was called the X-CaliBR8.
And, I was sure I saw it on USA Up All Night.
Not a lot to go on.
I don’t know if this was the first time someone thought, “I’ve got an idea. Let’s give this hero a wrist mounted supercomputer. It’ll be the greatest thing anyone has ever seen.” I’m not willing to do the research. But, it was the first time the seed was planted in my brain.
I spent way too much time in school doodling little pictures of myself as an international superspy/ninja/cyborg fighting off armies of bad guys with nothing but my wrist computer. In retrospect, it’s why I’m not great at either grammar or basic American history.
The idea wormed its way into my brain and it has stayed there for the last 20+ years.
It was reinforced by Glitch
Do you remember ReBoot? It was the second greatest cartoon ever made. It rocked the hardest core 90s CGI; had amazing characters and world building; and, the protagonist, Bob, heading gauntlet-computer named Glitch.
Glitch was Bob’s guardian key tool — his version of a sonic screwdriver. It could do whatever the plot needed it to do. It was a random bit of plot convenience.
(Until later seasons. I’m not afraid to go to spoilers for a cartoon that hasn’t been on the air for 20 years, but ReBoot is that good. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Just go watch it.)
Just like with the X-CaliBR8, I longed for the key tool of my own.
I wanted it so badly I have found DIY instructions on the Internet for building your own fake key tool out of an Altoid tin. This was way back in the 90s when finding instructions of how to do something on the Internet was damn near impossible. I would have one, too, but the instructions required a pog. And, despite my perfect age for pog collecting, I missed that fad.
And then came Pip-Boys
Fallout. Probably the greatest video games franchise in the post-apocalyptic retro-futurism genre. My opinion only. I haven’t played Bioshock.
I’m an old-school Fallout fan. I played way back when it was a turn-based strategy combat system instead of a first-person shooter. But, they already had the Pip-Boy.
That video game made me understand for the first time I was not alone. There were other people in the world who demanded a gauntlet-computer. Sure, they had this weird obsession with Tesla way before it was popular, but they were my people.
When Fallout 3 was released to a world of unsuspecting but immediate addicts, I thought it was my chance. Articles about wrist mounted computers sprang up all over the Internet. I told myself it was only a matter of time. Patients would win the day. Computers were getting smaller, Microsoft was showing off their awesome touchscreen technology, and the term wearable seems like more than a marketing buzzword.
Oh, but how I was wrong.
Like everything good in this world, Steve Jobs murdered my dream.
Smartphones destroyed everything
Bane of my existence and the greatest technological achievement Apple ever gave us without the magical power of Wozniak’s brain. I am an android user and am compulsively inclined to rage against Apple, but even I can admit the iPhone was a game changer.
In the course of a few months, cell phones went from useful communication tool to pocket supercomputer. This is an amazing thing and even my ego and selfishness wouldn’t let me use my time machine to stop it from happening.
But, as soon as smartphones existed in the world gauntlet-computers were forgotten.
Hope is all but lost
Yes, there was a small resurgence of hope when Orion passed his wrist computer on to Chuck, but it faded.
There is a company called Eurotech that makes wrist computers. But, there nothing like what I dreamed. A divergent branch from the same tree of technology.
I could settle for a “smart watch,” but it is in the same. Smart watches are a fad. They came into existence so we could say our technology has improved to where we could Facetime on our wrist as promised by James Bond. As soon as that novelty wore off we all threw them away.
The closest I will ever get to my childhood dream is following an Instructable on mounting a smartphone into a 3-D printed frame.
I blame myself. I should have become an electrical engineer/computer scientist/ninja-spy-cyborg. I could’ve guided technology the way it needed to go.
For now, I will allow myself to grieve for what could’ve been and post this replication of Elementary School Matt’s gauntlet-computer schematics. Perhaps one day a young aspiring genius will come across this post, learn from my mistakes, and invent the future we all deserve.