Maybe he liked blueberries, or more likely, he had poor dental hygiene and his front teeth had died at the roots. In any case, history now knows Harald Gormsson, king of Norway in 895, as “Bluetooth”. This becomes important to us because the inventors of the technology to connect devices to computers, named their product “Bluetooth”, and even used the Nordic runes to create their logo. They could have given a nod to Hedy Lamar for her contribution, but an early medieval Norse king was chosen.

Millions of devices use “Bluetooth”, from speakers to microphones, earbuds, printers, and headsets. It’s the most popular wireless conn ection. With clever renaming, a new device was named “Blueteeth”, referring to a pair of glasses that acted as a “heads up display”.

Several attempts had been made by different tech companies to create monitor glasses, but this one had great promise. Heavily mirrored from the outside, it was almost impossible to tell if they were projecting an image or just acting as sunglasses. The technology was so small that the frames easily concealed all electronics, using common hearing aid batteries. The glasses were designed to blend in as just another pair of sunglasses.

The user had a finger ring as a controller, to scroll through and select menus that were on screen. There were several choices of transparency from complete opacity to a faint display. The practical theory is that using close focus you saw the information on the glasses, and the distant focus saw straight through information to the outside world. When the opacity increased it was like putting on blinders with two tiny monitors in front of each eye.

No one studied how this might affect normal vision. Produce a thousand units, test them, and then see how it goes,- that was the manufacturer’s concept.

Most people used a smart phone for the computing source, but that was somewhat limited; a powerful laptop or tablet was a better connection. The best connection was an even more powerful desktop unit. Of course the ability to be mobile was a huge attraction, so text based information was optimal for use and battery life. Apps on the phone made this an easy choice. Full blown color animation and movies were still best by using desktop or gaming units.

Wallace was one of only six beta testers for the device. He was given a Series 2 device, by a separate company that hired screened users, and had applicants sign a non-disclosure agreements, and also have a security background check. Wallace was someone to be trusted, and would use the device in normal, and unusual approved tests. Wallace never asked what happened to Series One, it could have caused brain cancer but, he didn’t ask. Wallace accepted the technology, and immediately focused on the mobile text based apps, and then took the glasses on a tour through the city.

The GPS apps made navigating a breeze. It did take a few trips around the parking lot to get used to the switching focus, but after a few minutes it was very natural, and Wallace thought that even the state police would approve, so long as only the GPS was used. Connecting to social media while driving was probably not a good idea. Wallace made a few connections but didn’t tell anyone how he was connecting. Typing using the finger ring was tedious, but he was getting faster, better than his one finger hunt and peck, and the built in AI helped with auto-correct.

After a while, Wallace parked his car and went for a walk. He stopped at a sidewalk vendor and bought a latte, then strolled along the waterfront. He was scrolling through the menu choices when he approached some steps. He switched hands to grab the handrail, and the latte splashed a little though the hole in the lid. Wallace didn’t notice that the latte splash had hit his finger ring. The display blinked a few times then settled. The menu options seemed longer, then it blinked some more. Wallace walked on, but the finger ring no longer seemed to change the menus, and suddenly there were different text messages being displayed.

Wallace read with interest, then the message disappeared before he could finish reading. At first he thought some friend was texting him, but he was getting both sides of the conversation.

He was eavesdropping! The conversation disappeared as he walked away from one of the sources. Wallace looked around at the other people nearby. Someone appeared to be texting a little further ahead. It should have been impossible because he hadn’t “paired” with any device. Somehow his glasses were allowing his phone to connect to nearby Bluetooth transmissions.

In another minute or so Wallace was near enough and the text came through, he could actually scroll up to see the messages he had missed. The messages were directions to a local coffee shop that he could see directly ahead. Before he had gone too far the messages disappeared as a man crossed his path with an angry expression, and a finger jabbing at his phone.

The message came through to Wallace immediately. The man was angry with Alice and demanded that she stop seeing Stephen. Alice did not respond. Wallace could see that there was much more jabbing at the phone, and the indicator was telling him that the man, his name was Sam, was typing. It was a long paragraph, Wallace had kept walking and was soon out of range.

Was it the latte that caused this to happen? Or, did the device have a setting to piggyback on Bluetooth pairing? Wallace decided to sit on a bench and scroll through the various menus. The finger ring didn’t appear to be permanently damaged by the splash of latte. The messages had disappeared. Maybe this was just a one-time glitch, something worth a paragraph in his report to the company? He accessed the notepad through the glasses, and wrote a brief summary of his encounters, planning to expand it later.

“There was a brief flicker, and it appears that the device can pickup nearby Bluetooth based messages. It’s probably something that should be checked as a simple security update. It isn’t steady, and has disappeared, but should be checked out.” Wallace had dozens of security updates on his phone system.

Wallace thought about the potential problems of this type of security leak. Eavesdropping might be an interesting past-time for jealous partners, but the hard-core gamers that wanted this device, wouldn’t be interested in that feature. He thought the commuters would be the biggest market, checking stock prices, catching the latest news, maybe even watching music videos. It was the same activities that occur now, just with a better monitoring device. We get security notices all the time, no big deal. What reason would cause it to be intentional?

Wallace thought he would take a short train ride to the civic center, and headed to the station. While adjusting the finger ring there seemed to be a spot where the screen flickered once again. And the messages came back! Different messages kept appearing, and quickly disappearing, as more powerful signals shoved their way through. Wallace could not read them completely. There were dozens of people on the platform with their phones out, and busy jabbing fingers. Wallace caught one message, “Authorized to clean it up…” then it disappeared, replaced by a recipe for tuna salad. Then someone wanted to meet for a hotdog and beer at 5:00 pm. Finally,a cryptic message “…make it look like an accident.”

Wallace noticed the train coming, and the sign blinking for the civic center destination. He moved to the marked area where the train doors were to open. He barely felt the hand between his shoulder blades, as the train approached. Then he was flying towards the tracks.

The station was closed, it was arranged for buses to take passengers to the next station. Emergency services were still working on the tracks to clear the remains. One of the EMTs spotted the broken sunglasses, and said, “This might explain everything. I’m surprised that he could see anything with these on, they’re so dark!”

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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