Techilicious by Rajiv Makhni: Awesome innovations Vs useless tech
We live in the greatest era of technology ever! This is an often repeated phrase that we have been hearing for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, gimmicky technology seems to far outstrip any real significant innovations.
We have mood-sensing blankets (cool down or heat up based on our mood, doesn’t work and are very dangerous), Internet-enabled microwave ovens (stupid idea that at best gets you the wrong recipe off the net), a deed to one acre of land on the moon (totally legal and totally useless), smart toilet (for $8,000 it connects to Amazon Alexa and will play your favourite songs), smart underwear (has sensors built in to track your heart rate, breathing, and play your Spotify playlist. But do we really want sensors touching us ‘there’?) and a whole bandwagon of useless innovations that are aimed purely to attract attention and get some brownie points for the brand.
Real innovation should add value to the user directly and create a far-reaching ripple effect through society. Which is why it’s interesting to look at some really awesome innovations that do that. Some futuristic jaw-droppers, some small, but all with immediate impact.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink
The idea comes from every sci-fi book and movie you have ever seen. A Brain-Machine Interface, which allows humans to translate their brain signals into commands that machines can execute. All you need is to insert ultra-thin electrodes inside the brain, a robotic instrument to carefully implant those electrodes without damaging the brain and a small chip that is implanted into the head to receive signals from those electrodes. Elon Musk has just announced that they are on their way. This could change life as we know it. Of course there are some ethical and legal challenges before it happens – but that holds true for every major innovation this world has ever seen.
Vivo Z1 Pro gaming phone
The big thing in mobile phones right now is high performance gaming phones. Every brand seems to be releasing one. But they are all priced from Rs 30,000 to Rs 70,000. Vivo comes up with a gaming phone at 14K. Just gimmick marketing or is it really a true gamer phone? With a very large 6.53-inch screen, the world’s first Snapdragon 712 processor made for gaming, a massive 5000 mAh battery and a dedicated Multi-Turbo mode for gaming – this one ticks all the gaming phone boxes. Every other brand will now have to scramble to reinvent its gaming phones in terms of feature and price – and that’s the hallmark of true innovation.
Orient EyeLuv LED Bulb
Let’s play a little game. Switch your smartphone to super slow-motion mode and point it to any LED bulb in your home or office. Shocked? Yes, that massive flicker you see is invisible, yet leads to major brain and eye fatigue. And this from LED technology, which was supposed to change the world with low power yet high-intensity illumination. By innovating and coming up with a brand new driver, Orient has created flicker control technology that changes this completely and it’s the first to do it. It’s my prediction that once we all become aware of this, normal LED bulbs will become completely redundant.
Microsoft HoloLens Hologram
Imagine giving a speech to thousands of people in 12 different languages, each spoken flawlessly. Imagine doing that in 12 different locations at the same time. Impossible? Actually it’s right around the corner. Microsoft with its HoloLens device has created a hologram that will transform you into a digital speaker and send you off to give speeches, attend meetings and meet people anywhere in the world. Microsoft recently scanned Julia White, a company executive, and transformed her into an exact hologram replica that translated her keynote into Japanese. Estimate this to come to consumers in about a year.
Motorola One Vision
Motorola seemed to have disappeared for a while, but it seems it just went back to the drawing board to come up with something seriously innovative. Its new One Vision does two amazing things. For a price under 20K it has real optical image stabilisation (almost all other phones at this price point have electronic stabilisation that is far inferior) and it has quad-pixel tech in both the front and rear camera that takes four pixels and merges it into one. As an image is basically as good as each pixel, this gives stunning results. Here’s hoping every brand brings in OIS and Quad Pixel technology in phones irrespective of price.
That’s the difference between gimmicky tech and real innovations. Thus, the next time you see an umbrella that can sense rain or a robotic bartender or even a toilet that warms its seat when you sit on it – give it what it deserves. Complete indifference. We have enough tech crap in this world, don’t encourage more of it!
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
Techilicious appears every fortnight
From HT Brunch, August 4, 2019
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