With that somewhat grandiose subject line ('the future is here') one could be expecting great things, but I'd put the subject of this entry under 'small things that work great.'
Earlier this month, I was checking in on one my many printer industry metrics, in this case the number of cumulative downloads of GreenPrint software from download.com (over 91,000 as of today). I noticed among a list of "popular Printer Software downloads" a rather generically-named product entitled "Photocopier". (Click on the screen shot below to see detail.)
This basic program, by Nico Cuppen Software, works simply and allows me, in one push of its green button (see above), to make a quick copy using my scanner and laser printer. Now what's magic about this? Nothing really, but keep in mind that my scanner is part of an inkjet all-in-one and the laser printer is stand-alone (see my interview at the Databazaar blog for a description of my office hard copy setup). So I get my nice, crisp, toner-based black-and-white copies and work around the inkjet printer, which is seemingly forever on its last drops of black ink. And "real copies" aren't produced by inkjets anyway, at least to some of us old-schoolers!
To close on the theme of "future is here", this whole "peripherals talking to each other" is mindful of a very substantial project I worked on at HP (NYSE HPQ) more than ten years ago, which eventually made it to market under the brand "Jetsend". While today's simple solution I've described is hardly the independent, stand-alone peripherals vision of that program, in fact far from it with the ever-present PC doing much of the work, functionally -- how the solution satisfies a customer need -- it could be argued it's the same.
Hmmm, I think I see an upcoming Observations column here...