Tech Yourself: Your tech guide to sci-fi

A new technology column written by Aaron Mackenzie.

Good day folks! As we enter the real time era of sci-fi technologies, some of you may be feeling a little lost in terms of what’s out there, how it works, and if it can work for you. My goal for this column is to discuss the hi-tech gadgets and innovations that are coming out to market, and hopefully answer some questions you may have about what can be a daunting field to get into.

Some background on who I am: my name is Aaron Mackenzie, and I have been selling consumer electronics in one way or another for the last 10 years. I first got into the whole tech scene because of my dad. He was a bit of a stereo buff, and he’s to blame for that rubbing off on me.

Through my teenage years I spent a lot of my time playing with car stereos, from designing subwoofer boxes to helping friends with the math for the systems they wanted to design. I started in consumer electronic sales as a Christmas temp hire with Radio Shack, and fell in love with the revolving door of new items, not to mention the fulfillment of helping customers find exactly what they need.

To kick off this column, the first thing I would like to touch on is Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is a neat little piece of tech that allows a device like a smartphone to be used to make payments or share data in a very easy way.

Samsung had some commercials out recently that  showed people tapping their phones together and exchanging contacts or pictures — that’s NFC at work.

Some other things you can make happen with NFC is automating tasks. For example, you could be standing in front of a display at a museum, and you tap your smartphone on the NFC tag in the display — your phone automatically opens a webpage that shows more details of the item, or possibly pictures of how the item was restored, or of the excavation process that led to recovering the item.

I’m currently working on getting my Samsung Galaxy S3 to automatically connect to my car stereo, turn on my favourite internet radio station, load up some GPS software, turn off text messages and Facebook notifications, and disable my screen timeout feature.

All just by dropping my phone into the cradle on my dash.

I’ll be sharing a web video or page of something I find interesting at the end of each column. Here is a video that’s a demo of real time speech recognition and translation, something we have all seen in Star Trek:

I may have had the pleasure of meeting some of you already. For those that I have not met, please feel free to stop by The Source and say hello or ask any questions you might have.

Aaron Mackenzie is a new columnist with The Valley Echo and the sales manager at The Source in Invermere. He can be reached at