Not So “Smart” Technology, After All

Not So Smart Technology, After All

I consider myself very far from a Luddite, but new ideas for wearable smart devices have become both annoyingly unnecessary and weird.

Samsung has already sold 800,000 pieces of its new Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Google is in the process of making its Google Glass follow-up. We haven’t developed a need for these products, yet so many of them continue to hit headlines as revolutionary new gadgets that will change our lives. The industry’s shift toward creating wearable technology is not gamechanging; many of these products actually reflect how much streamlined laziness society is starting to allow.

Technology research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that by 2016, the wearable technology industry will be worth some $10 billion, but I may lose all faith in humanity if I ever see smart earrings made with the purpose to whisper what the weather will be like tomorrow, or smart toilet paper to dispense itself in the restroom.

If the “smart bra” does not already seem strange by name, you’ll definitely get weirded out by its purpose. The bra’s prototype, designed and developed by Microsoft, is built with physiological sensors that researchers intend women to use to “track emotional moods and combat overeating.” The sensors in the bra would warn women through a message on a mobile app to remind them of their diets before opening the refrigerator.

Though the bra technology was not developed to become a commercial product, the fact that the industry has shifted towards making technology to control our actions is alarming and assumes that we no longer have the agency to make decisions ourselves. This type of invasive technology also loosely reminds me of AUTO, the evil steering wheel in Wall-E that made all the humans stay on the space shuttle for years and get terribly fat.

Wearable technology is not without its safety controversies either; they force the government to make new legislation to enforce common sense. A month ago, a San Diego resident was issued a ticket for driving on the freeway while wearing Google Glass. The police officer charged her for distracted driving because of the nature of Glass and its many multi-tasking abilities. The woman argues that her Glass was not activated and is now fighting the case, but the safety concerns regarding those that drive while wearing Glass are not unwarranted. Glass makes it harder for enforcement to catch people who choose to watch a video on YouTube or surf the web while driving, which leads me to wonder why we’re spending time to implement additional legislations to keep the roads safe, just to allow a product that isn’t saving lives or finding a cure for cancer.

If the wearable technology industry is really going to explode into billions of dollars, I’d like to see some products that can actually be useful for health and medical fields. But for now, call me a 70-year-old woman who can’t cope with changing times; no one really needs these new kinds of wearable technology.

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