John reached over and shut off the alarm clock. He turned on the lights and got up. Downstairs, he began to make his morning coffee and turned on the television to check the weather forecast. Checking the time on the kitchen clock, he poured his coffee and went to the solarium to sit and read the newspaper.
Upstairs, the kids were getting ready for school. Julie was listening to a favorite song while getting dressed. Stevie felt sick, so his mother, Sarah, checked his temperature. Julie would go to school, but Stevie would stay home.
John drove to work in his new car, a high-tech showcase. He drove across a bridge, noticing the emergency telephones along the side of the freeway. He encountered traffic signals, highway signs, and a police officer scanning for speeders.
Awaiting John in his office were several telephone messages and a fax. He turned on his computer, checked some reference data on a CD-ROM, and printed it to look at later. After copying some last-minute handouts, he went to the conference room to make a presentation.
Meanwhile, Julie was walking to school. As she passed the neighbors' house, a security light came on. On the next block she passed a construction site for a new apartment building, then a block of medical offices. A few blocks away was the factory where her uncle worked.
At school, Julie's first class was biology. The students looked for microbes in water samples they had collected on a nature walk the previous day. On the walk they had also done some birdwatching and taken still and video pictures of the plants and wildlife. The teacher put on her glasses to read Julie's lab report.
At lunchtime, John left his office to do some grocery shopping. At the checkout counter he paid with a credit card. Among his purchases were a bag of apples, a bottle of wine, and a carton of milk. Each was labeled with a bar- code.
At home, Stevie was watching a movie on the largescreen television. With her sick son occupied, Sarah connected her laptop computer to the office network. Modern technology let her do her work, despite having to stay home with the child—and at least John was stuck doing the shopping.
light-emitting diode (LED) displays
energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps
infrared remote controls
optical fibers for distributing cable television
satellite-based optical weather imaging
liquid crystal displays (LCDs)
temperature-moderating window coatings
laser fabric cutting
infrared noncontact "ear" thermometers
infrared automobile security systems;
optical monitors for antilock brakes; LED, LCD, and optical fiber dashboard displays; LED taillights
optical-fiber sensors to monitor bridge integrity
solar power for emergency services
LED traffic lights
high-reflectivity surfaces for highway signs
laser traffic radar
optical fiber telephone cables
optical scanners and fax machines
photolithography for making computer chips
optical data storage
overhead projectors, slide projectors, laser pointers
infrared motion sensors for home security
laser range finders and surveying equipment
laser surgery, optical tools for medical diagnosis
laser welding and cutting, optical stereolithography for rapid three-dimensional prototyping
microscopes, magnifying lenses binoculars
cameras, videocameras eyeglasses
supermarket bar-code scanners
credit card holograms to prevent counterfeiting
image recognition for produce quality control
optical inspection to ensure clean bottles
optical inspection for labeling and packaging
bar-code readers for inventory control
videodisks and videodisk players
active-matrix displays for computers
optical fiber local area networks