This week, I’ve been musing on what drives tech manufacturers to innovate. Knee-jerk reaction is that it’s to make money and sell more devices, duh. But what consumer needs do these new innovations appeal to? My answer: the need to be lazy.
Hear me out! What some may call efficiency or convenience, I chalk up to beautiful laziness. And with some recent products and features, that’s the only explanation I can find for their existence. For example, I can order a pizza directly from my Xbox 360. I can “work from home” thanks to a multitude of technological innovations. (In fact, I’m writing this article on the couch, in my pajamas, while eating cookies. Seriously. My life is practically a Snuggie commercial).
And now we have tiny little lazy-makers in our pockets. Our smartphones can do everything for us. They can control our televisions; lock our houses; open our garages; tell us when to go pee during a film; remind us to get up, take medicine, and feed our pets. Those are just the things we tell our devices to tell us to do! Google Now can actually monitor our use and provide us with functions and services we haven’t even requested yet.
On top of that, we can now purchase devices to make using our smartphones easier. Look at the Motorola Skip, an accessory that’s sole function is to unlock your phone. I’ve paid $200 for a phone, and now I’m going to pay an extra $20 because touching my phone is too hard! (Honestly, though. I’m pretty sure I can concoct a mechanized way to use Skip with the Locket app and become a millionaire in a matter of months).
Earlier in this rant of sorts, I called this laziness beautiful. It is. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, either. Bill Gates says he gives the hardest job to the laziest person, because that person will find the easiest way to do it. While Windows Phone isn’t a serious player in the smartphone arena, the value of laziness can be seen in the world of mobile OS.
The desire to simplify our every day tasks has led to amazing innovations that have truly done good in the world. Apps like One Today and Charity Miles utilize the same technology that lets users brag about their exercise prowess and share their most recent whereabouts to raise money for charities and encourage others to do the same. BOINC uses your unharnessed smartphone computer power to do SCIENCE! One Laptop Per Child dropped off pre-loaded Motorola Xoom tablets in Ethiopia so children without access to school could learn to read. Not only did these children learn to read English, but within five months they had hacked the devices to enable deactivated hardware and customize the settings.
So tomorrow, when you’re shoving your fifth hot dog down your gullet, checking your favorite sports teams’ scores, streaming your favorite band so you don’t have to interact with your family and crushing some candy, remember: you, average consumer, and your desire for convenience, efficiency, simplicity and downright laziness are propelling a handful of individuals and an entire sector of the technological industry to greatness. Pat yourself on the back, if it’s not too much work.