Sunday, October 30, 2005

Smart Products

I was reading an old copy of Wired magazine and found this article on transparent circuitry. With quotes like 'window glass is wasted real estate" the inventor and author envision a computer utopia in less than 20 years where everything that is clear today is a network of super computers in the future. Now I like the idea of utopia close at hand to balance the stories of impending doom and gloom, but we can't even apply the computer power we have today in useful every day products.

This brings me to my loathing of stupid stop lights. I'm not talking about all stop lights, but the ones that actually seem almost evil. Possibly starting a conspiracy theory, but there are stop lights I encounter on a regular basis that appear to actively maximize the amount of fuel wasted by cars sitting at idle before the light. Its as if they were made by someone who owns a lot of stock in oil companies! The light at the entrance/exit of my neighborhood is just such a light.

When I come to the light I can see that their is no traffic in either direction for about 1/2 mile. Yet it is red, and it stays red for minutes until a car approaches on the intersected road. Then it turns red for that car, and turns green for me to go at the worst possible time for traffic flow and fuel use. There are two resources being wasted by these lights, one is the fuel, the other is time. As we all know time is money, and the free flow of traffic is very important to the U.S. economy.

So while a super computing utopia might be around the bend, I would be happy if we could just apply a little standard logic to traffic lights to save me time and money. (Or is that money and money, while reducing the consumption of hydrocarbons?) Seems like traffic flow is something driving American's should make their local politicians think about.
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