Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. At work, it has boosted our productivity beyond expectations. We no longer need a pool of typists to create documents - it's now self-service with a computer and printer. We have accounting software that provides the most financially ignorant a way to maintain their books. There are RFID chips and scanning technologies available that help track inventory and revenue that would have previously caused a quarterly one- to two-day shutdown to double check records. We can now be reached by anyone, anytime, anywhere with mobile technologies. It's quite impressive how far we have come in such a short time.
However, there is a price: we are rarely unplugged and often focused on being "efficient." Technology is dictating life to us rather than the other way around.
I love weekends because it's when I choose to be inefficient. The phone and email isn't running my life. I'm not focused on finishing my to-do list, except for a few errands, and more focused on living life.
This is why I'm not a fan of the concept of "wearable technology." It's one thing to have better fabrics that don't show perspiration or stops smells, but it is another thing to integrate the Internet and phone technologies into earrings or a watch. Innovations like Google glass are a great step forward - no doubt. But for those of us who no longer multi-task and instead, focus on the moment at hand and don't want constant connection, it's a challenging concept. It's almost like we can't escape being connected. I grew up in a small town and even there, someone could escape to the corner of a park and be completely alone for a few hours. Technology is getting a little too in our faces - literally. Even tracking all of your physical activity to determine how many calories you burn - isn't that getting a little intrusive? What happened to walking just to walk - or climbing stairs just to make a destination?
I often wonder why we won't incorporate technology in our home to improve our quality of life. I'm not talking about incorporating connection technologies - I'm talking about making life more convenient. I have some initial thoughts below. Sure, some need more thought and I hope some are in progress to be made (let me know if they are - look forward to it!).
Home server - I'm not thinking about access to the cloud, I'm talking about having a server at home that stores files (music, photos, etc.) and there is a way for people to access them from any device in any location at home. And yes - there would be no way for your neighbor to access them. There are so many times I want to access a movie, but I don't want to download it from a cloud or stream it (that's slow) - I want to play from my speedier home network. I also don't want to use rented space to store the file. I want to use MY space that isn't shared and has a partition from the outside world. Sure, there is a risk that it could be hacked, but I'd feel better if I had access to a server that isn't necessarily connected to the internet and I'd use a local network to get files.
Home doctor - rather than going to the doctor's office, we could save on health care costs (and insurance) by having a "home doctor" in the bathroom. I don't see why a device couldn't be created that could do urine and blood testing, track temperatures, weight, and be a virtual medical book. There could even be some type of scanner included in the kit - maybe something hand-held. If test results and symptoms hinted at a medical condition, the "home doctor" could suggest you see a real doctor - and maybe even book an appointment. And in compliance with HIPAA regulations, this could be stored in the safety of your home and not shared unless you chose to share it.
I mean, let's face it - who likes giving a urine sample at the doctors? It is messy and uncomfortable. Wouldn't it be easier to use a wand to indicate on the spot what is wrong? Why can't we do this today?
Home cooking - access online recipes in a single place (yes, I'm thinking of an aggregator that compiles recipes from online sources, cookbooks and your own entries), built into the counter. Once you select what you want to make, your system tells you what you don't have in your kitchen, suggests some substitutions or indicates which stores in the area may have what you need, and pre-heats your oven for whatever you are making. Much of this technology is available today. And no, it doesn't need to be connected to the Internet to track your inventory and provide substitution information. This could be a on a private network to maintain security, leveraging information from the Internet as needed. And there could be manual overrides to give someone more control if needed.
Home entrances - There needs to be more thought required here to ensure security - but rather than having keys to get into a home (a dated approach to security anyway), why not use retinal scans? Let's say you have local retinal scans to ensure you live in your home. When your scan is successful, you walk into your home, the lights and heat goes on and all is good. If the scan fails, some type of intruder message is played. And if someone breaks in, same thing. And you could keep people out easily. It may cause some interesting young sibling interactions (brothers and sisters deleting access from each other), but it would definitely more secure than a key. And no more worrying about losing your keys.
Virtual/robot butler - wouldn't it be great if you were in the middle of cooking a meal, the phone rings, and a voice says, "Mary, it is your mother. Do you want to accept the call?" and I can talk to my mom on speaker. Or I get an email from a friend, or an urgent work email, and I get an announcement about it - or a reminder that I need to respond. Or I decide to watch a movie and I just tell my home server/computer " Computer, show X-Men on my tablet." Or I'm practicing my belly dancing and I want to practice with my cane, which is in my closet. I could say "Little robot, can you please get my cane in the closet?" Sure - that's the most advanced case, but some of the virtual butler cases - why can't we do that today?
Instead of having a more conenvient home, we focus on having bras that tweet about breast cancer. Technology is running a fine line between giving us a better life and dictating efficiency 24/7. We have to have control over it to keep our life our own private universe.