A vision: The Magic Cabinet!

Imagine a small cabinet on the wall (or recessed into the wall), maybe 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall, like a kitchen cabinet.

You walk up to the cabinet, open the door, and put into it any item, for example, a flashlight. You speak the word: "Flashlight". And you close the door. You hear a whir and in a moment your flashlight is gone.

Sometime later, you walk up to your magic cabinet and say "Flashlight!" You hear a slight whir and a moment later the door opens and there is your flashlight!

Behind this cabinet, on the other side of the wall, is a large storage room. It has a bunch of shelves. A robotic gripper arm runs back and forth along the shelves and grabs objects and moves them back and forth between the cabinet and the shelves.

And that's pretty much all there is to it!

Of course, not just your flashlight, but all your stuff, is stored in your magic cabinet.

What could you store in such a Magic Cabinet?

All your stuff is stored in the Magic Cabinet. All your kitchen pots and pans. All your clothes. All the stuff that used to be in closets. All your shoes. Boxes of cereal. It even has a refrigerated section to store milk or eggs or anything you might have stored in a refrigerator.

No more refrigerator! (At least not one that is visible and taking up space in your kitchen)! No more kitchen cabinets. No more bedroom closets. No more shelves. All your stuff is in the Magic Cabinet!

(You might have additionally Magic Cabinets in other rooms of the house. There could be a transport system in the walls, or perhaps the storage room could be centrally located with various rooms all around it, so that multiple cabinets could easily access the storage.)

You say "Corn Flakes" or "My bright red dress!" Or "My softball glove", and there it is! (You say the same phrase you used when you put it away).

We could even build in a microwave oven and other devices into the storage room so that when you want a meal, not only does the system fetch it, but it cooks it first too! Or when you store your clothes they could be automatically laundered!

It could also takes (possibly 3D) pictures of all items as they are put in so that you could visually scan and select from all your stuff. Or say "ice-cream" to see what flavors are available!

Phase two: Storage all over the city with automatic transport!

Our company will now build Magic Storage Units spread out all over the city.

They are just big buildings filled with the same kind of shelves and robotic access. Not necessarily any different technology than is in houses. Except instead of a small "cabinet", there is a big "door" and trucks back up into it!

Trucks (autonomously driven of course!) arrive every few seconds, back up to a window, dock with the building, and get robotically shoved full of stuff, and then drive away. It is all fully automated. There are no humans here at all! (Cameras watch it closely and a central office with lots of screens can dispatch a human instantly in case of trouble).

The truck then arrives at your house and whatever you have ordered is transferred from the truck to your Magic Cabinet (which has a secondary door on the outer wall of your house so the truck can just back into it and dock with it as well.

Now you can use your Magic Cabinet to request not just what you already have, but ANYTHING you want! You can buy any kind of Corn Flakes. You can browse all the latest dresses and shoes. Click on something and it arrives! If it was stored inside, you hear a whir and it appears in a second or two. If it is further away, it may take a few minutes. But the interface is the same.

How about small autonomous drone helicopters to move stuff around? Or underground tubes that connect our buildings!

All of our Storage Units run predictive algorithms so that products are always moved around optimally and stored in locations where they are likely to be needed soon. Your own house's unit is smart enough to know when you are almost out of cereal and pre-order your favorite one even before you call for it.

Traveling Magic Cabinets: Perhaps you can't afford a Magic Cabinet yet... You can still order stuff (eg, "Magic-Amazon.com"). A truck with a human "delivery man" arrives and leaves you a package. Or, a completely autonomous truck arrives and a robot drops it off on your doorstep!

In fact, our company, Magic Cabinets, will eventually merger/acquire FedEx, and Amazon, and Best Buy too...

The future: you ask for an object and you get it.

All manufactured products are now part of our system, from Auto Parts to Fruit and Vegetables to clothing to EVERYTHING! All products are brought to you by a system of robotic vehicles and stored in a system of robotically run storage units.

And there will still be shopping malls!

People love to browse and touch and feel and try on actual merchandise. But stores can have even more samples out for direct perusal, as stores will be all show-room and zero storage-space. And now I can choose something but still ask, "Can I get this in Blue?", or "Can I get it an a larger size?", and of course, I can!

Because in a live "brick and mortar" store, when you select something, you don't get the one you are touching, instead, you get an identical one, in your size/color/etc, which appears immediately at the store's magic cabinet! Or better yet, appears in your own magic cabinet, transported there even before you arrive home!

- Steven Swift, September 9th, 2012.