Is Smart Technology the New Normal?

Technology New Normal

Let’s be honest. Technology is changing at a lightening-fast rate. It has revolutionized the way we communicate, how we consume information, and how we live our lives. Unless you live a very Emersonian lifestyle, technology can be found just about everywhere, and “smart” technology is leading the way.

Just the other day, I saw a commercial for a “smart” mattress. Now, what the heck does that mean? It’s not going to make you a smarter sleeper, that’s for sure, but it might help you to understand more about yourself.  Sleep Number, for example, has a smart bed that registers movement, breathing, and heart rate while you sleep. Of course, those metrics can be sent to tablets, smart phones and PCs. I’m not convinced that this would be popular for home use, but think of the possibilities for hospital use.

What about this New Robot named “Pepper” created in Japan, that can read emotions? I see lots of pros and cons to this facial recognition technology, and where it might be useful. Think of the possibilities for the military–you could program Pepper to speak any language (she currently speaks 17), and remove the risk of injury to soldiers. This could also help the visually impaired, and possibly the elderly, but if robots start to replace teachers, we’re all in trouble.

Is tennis your game? A company called Shot Stats has come up with a new product that basically turns an ordinary tennis racquet into a smart racquet. The device is called “Challenger”. Much like a racquet dampener, this device clips onto tennis racquet strings, but with its smart technology, it produces shot data while playing, with a built-in screen and audio, and it can be synchronized via Bluetooth to a mobile device or tablet. Through its companion app, users can set goals, track progress with specific shot types, then view and share their metrics and videos with friends and coaches. Unfortunately, the device won’t be available until 2015, but this could definitely be a game changer, whether you’re a pro, or just a casual player. And no, you can’t use it to send text messages.

Google Glass has been in development for a few years, and now, the “Explorer Edition” of Google Glass (i.e., beta) is available to all. If Google Glass becomes the new normal, I think we’re in for some problems. Concerns about Google Glass have been well publicized–for driving in particular. Not to mention the vision problems that could develop due to overuse. Remember when your parents told you to not sit so close to the TV? This would be like sitting one centimeter away from a TV. Also, Google Glass allows you to take video, using a voice action. You simply say, “ok glass, record a video.” This is great if you are witnessing a crime, but not so great if you are a criminal. Google need to re-think this one.

Speaking of driving, the idea of self-driving cars seem to be on the technological horizon. The technology already exists for a car that talks back to you, but driving itself? Can this possibly become our new normal down the road? I’m not so sure that car insurance companies are going to like the idea. Insurance claims will need to have a few new check boxes: “It was the car’s fault” or “My car wouldn’t listen.” It would be great to see this new technology become available, if only to help the visually impaired to gain some freedom. But, there are potential snags. This recent CNN article reviews the down side of this technology: Hacking.

Regardless of the direction that technology takes us, people are going to pick and choose what type of smart technology is best suited to them (and their wallets). My hope is that the benefits of smart technology outweigh the risks.

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