Crossing the Digital Divide

There's a digital divide
Some are on the other side
But it cannot be denied,
We're all in for quite a ride.

I thought I had captured the flavor of the digital revolution when I wrote a futuristic piece for our 70Candles! book, three years age. The groundbreaking research in artificial intelligence, robotics, genetics and computer sciences chronicled by Michio Kaku in his book, Physics of the Future (2010) was astounding at the time and inspiring. Daily newspapers now, herald changes afoot that I could not have imagined then. Inventions and applications of modern technology appear from countless sources, filling needs we didn't know we had.

What for example could we do without Wifi remote control of our player piano? How have we managed without touch screen mirrors in our clothing store dressing rooms? Yes, just tap the screen to indicate your need and a salesperson with oblige. No more running half-dressed and barefoot from a dressing room to the clothing racks to select the next size. The screen on the mirror can also display alternative fashion choices, or offer styling tips for the garment you have selected (Dallas Morning News 3-20-16).

Want some excitement? Imagine the World Drone Prix, the first international drone competition, held in Dubai and won by a fifteen year old British pilot. Next year, hold your hats for the World Future Sports Games, December, 2017, offering robotic swimming, running, wrestling and car racing (New York Times, 3-13-16).

Application of virtual reality is burgeoning, as VR becomes integral to video games. Players will not just look at the screen and play, they will appear immersed within their games. We hear of VR now used in social skills training for those with autism, and it's likely to be adopted in numerous fields from on-line interior decorating to medical student teaching.

Some gadgets and devices are especially important for seniors, particularly when they choose to age in place, and family is not nearby. Sensors, increasingly less expensive, can now be placed anywhere; an aid to caregivers who live at a distance. A sensor on the fridge can register and detect falls. The Lively safety watch tells the time, counts a person's steps, has a medication monitor, and an alert button that can be used in case of emergency. Information from all of these can be transmitted to family members or other caretakers who want to be assured that all is well with the person living alone (Dallas Morning News 8-18-16).

Voice control seems ubiquitous. With Apple's Home Kit hub, you can tell Siri to turn on special LED Smart Ivy bulbs in any specially named location of your home while you are away (Dallas Morning News 3-8-16).

And what about FaceTime? How did we ever live without it? It allows the grandpa in San Francisco to read a Roald Dahl chapter book to his 5-year-old grandson in Brooklyn. It connects the musically talented grandma to her granddaughter in another city for weekly violin practice. The granddaughter sends a photo of her music, the grandma prints it and proceeds to coach as the girl plays.

My septuagenarian friends and I do our best to keep up with innovations around us; we succeed to varying degrees. The pace of change feels incredibly rapid, but I admit each personal discovery feels empowering. With the knowledge that my grandchildren are completely done with email, I just learned how to use the keyboard mic to speak my text messages...ahh. And Siri's voice recently magically guided me to a distant doctor's comforting that was! I'm fascinated by the endless layers of information available on the web, and can surf with the best of them. Now, I'm looking forward to the smart cars that will independently stop to avoid crashes, and will eventually drive themselves. Can't wait to see what new marvels tomorrow's newspaper will bring!


Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole are authors of 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, available at and at in paperback and as a Kindle download.