Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Battle is Over, But The War May Have Just Begun

Technology - friend or foe? For years we have been under the delusion that technology will make our life easier. And yet research does not bear this out with the increase of stress disorders. Instead of working less, we work harder at accomplishing more. Why? Because technology makes it easier to do more in less time. 

For some of us the learning curve for the continual upgrading of computers, software, cell phones and even our appliances has either left us in the technological dust or swept us into a tsunami of wanting more. Now the ultimate technology battle has been won.

Since the debut in 1956  of the wireless TV remote, the same argument has been playing out in homes all over the country. Who is in charge of the remote? The truth is 91% of American households with televisions fight over the remote. And 12% of these arguments become physical. We now have remotes for just about everything in our technological world, from our music to our temperature controls. In the palm of our hand lies the control of our world.

Well, from the vision of two engineers from Australia, we will now be able to control these devices with the wave of a hand. We've been seeing this technology on the big screen as futuristic cops and crime investigators wave their hand in front of a screen to bring up information or pictures. With a few hand signals, you too, will be determining the channel, the temperature, the volume, even the lighting in the room. 

The new gadget incorporates a camera that can recognize hand signals and converts them into commands for the television. A clenched fist means start, a wave of the hand changes channels, pointing a finger selects and clapping hands turn it off.  No more looking for the remote as long as you know where your hands are. But I have to wonder if despite the winning of this battle, we have begun an even bigger war. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome seems likely to be the next major statistic or perhaps atrophy of the buttocks or legs, since we will no longer have to get up to turn on anything. Once we sit down, we can stay in one place and control everything around us. I do wonder what will happen to the 12% statistic of physical confrontation for the remote. With all that arm waving and clenched fisting, is it a far stretch to accidentally take a swing at your partner or sibling to regain control? Apparently this remote camera will be able to recognize its owner and is set for a dominant user. 

Technology - friend, foe or instigator? My siblings and I used to race to the TV and the first to get to the dial was the winner. Saturday morning cartoons were a mix of aerobics and sibling rivalry. More challenges in this technological warfare. I say let's give the remote the heave ho and return to fewer channels with more substance, more board games, reading a good book and taking a long walk after dinner. Then let's check the statistics again in a year. That's what a wise grandma would do.

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