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YOUR FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT

The future isn't exactly now, but presenters at the Sarasota International Design Summit assure us it's coming very soon.

The third annual conference on design and technology trends took place earlier this week at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Among the 250 attendees were students from the Ringling College of Art and Design, which hosts the event, plus designers and techies from around the world.

From what we gathered at the three-day seminar, here are five elements of your life that you can expect to get smarter in the near future.

Your car

Design company Pininfarina Extra USA is working on a concept car that may one day eliminate the need for traffic signals. The Sintesi will be able to communicate with and respond to other cars, creating a safer, more efficient trip. Why stop at a red light if there's no one in your path? Why take I-4 when the back roads are less clogged? The Sintesi will sense the presence of another vehicle and alert you to slow down, stop, turn or proceed. A prototype of the concept car, which is about the size of a Honda Civic, will make its U.S. debut in January. Get an early look at sintesi.pininfarina.com.

Your space

Forget the Jetsons. International design firm Herman Miller is already creating programmable environments, including Georgia Tech's Library and Information Center, whose programmable rooms allow students and professors to customize the space. Dim the lights for a late-night study session. Rearrange the furniture, which is all on wheels, to work on a group project. Even the walls are easily retractable. Such adaptable environments will help eliminate waste in the future as we adapt existing buildings instead of demolishing them and erecting new ones. For instance, instead of buying a new house, you can program your current living space to change with your family.

Your kids

Sugar Labs, a worldwide community of about 3,000 volunteer software programmers, has created a free educational platform aimed at kids in grades K-6. They can make music, share photos, keep a journal and more, regardless of whether they have Internet access. Best of all, the Sugar on a Stick product allows kids to carry the program on a USB thumb drive and run it on any computer. Check it out at sugarlabs.org.

Your phone

Expect more businesses to capitalize on your cell phone's constant presence at your hip or in your purse. For instance, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art offers audio tours of some exhibits. Dial the number, punch in the prompts, and you can kiss those oversized museum headsets good-bye. Your phone will also be able to share photos and video in real time. When your baby takes his first steps, you can call Grandma and let the milestone unfold before her eyes.

Your time

Mobile devices will continue to bring the Internet everywhere you go. For example, twitter.com/twisney users offer up-to-the-minute reports on the wait time for Disney rides. Dopplr.com also helps maximize your time by telling you which of your friends is traveling at the same time as you, allowing you to connect at, say, the airport.

dcolon@tampabay.com

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