Sunday, 1 July 2012

User-Friendly Technology

I was discussing pet peeves with my husband one morning. His is the computer that asks you three times if you're really sure you want it to carry out the command you just gave it. Mine is cell phones ringing everywhere, all the time. We envisioned a world where technology was useful and friendly, not annoying. Technology that actually enhanced your life. So here's the list of devices we think need to be developed:
  • An alarm clock that, after you've hit the snooze button three times, is programmed to phone your boss and say "She just won't get up. I've tried and tried, but it looks like you'll just have to go ahead without her today. I'm sorry. I've done my best." Or it could cough and wheeze and say you're staying home ill.
  • A cell phone that politely clears its throat and whispers, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but you have a call."
  • A fridge that asks you gently when you open the door, "Are you really sure you want to eat this cheesecake? You don't really need that extra 500 calories, do you? How about you go for a run instead?"
  • A treadmill that makes encouraging noises, says motivational phrases, and announces every so often, "Congratulations! You just burned off that leftover pizza you had for breakfast this morning!"
  • A clothes washer that doesn't buzz, but instead calls out a cheery, "Yoohoo! It's time for the fabric softener!" 
  • A cupboard where you can keep all the stuff you don't want your kids to get into, and if they manage to break into it, it immediately sends you an instant message: "Albert's into the chewable vitamins again!"
  • A Home Alarm system that - rather than barking "The police have been notified" - instead flips lights on all over the house, slams an upstairs door, and shouts, "Martha, get the rifle! There's someone downstairs!"
  • A car that automatically starts to recite a Hail Mary when you go over the speed limit.
  • A lawnmower that politely reminds you when it starts getting low on gas. Or better yet, mows the lawn for you, like one of those robot vacuums.
  • An ATM machine that says "Your account is getting a little low. You might want to rethink this withdrawal." Or a wallet that absolutely refuses to let you take out your credit card when you're near your limit.
  • And I've always maintained that a photocopier that is smart enough to tell me it's jammed should be smart enough to clear the jam itself.
Now, wouldn't that be more useful?

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