Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Nag, Nag, Nag! Will New Gizmo Trend Backfire?

A new trend in technology, dubbed "nag tech", which tells you to do things like brush your teeth properly, appears to be growing rapidly.
Developers are increasingly coming up with gadgets which inform us what do, how to do it and when to do it, by linking to apps on our phones and tablets.
Among the devices are forks that alert us when we are eating too quickly, toothbrushes which make sure we are cleaning our teeth correctly and shower plug devices that warn us if we use too much water.
There is also a product called Mother which can monitor every facet of your life via sensors placed around your home, enabling it to send you countless notifications about things such as when you are running out of coffee, or if you have forgotten to take your vitamins.
The new tech might sound like a great way to better ourselves, but in reality, how many of us really want to be told what to do by a gizmo?
An app to warn the user that they are slouching This app warns users when they are slouching
Technology and behaviour expert Nir Eyal suggests feeling micromanaged can backfire.
"When your freedom feels a little bit threatened - that sensation is called 'reactance' and interestingly enough our gadgets can inflict the same response and that negative feeling is something that people do not like to feel and with time people will actually divorce these technologies."
But Kieran Alger, who uses a plethora of devices every day to track various parts of his lifestyle, including his weight, body fat, exercise, diet, calories, sleep and even his posture (a belt which vibrates when he slouches), certainly does not seem to feel threatened.
"Really I think we all like to secretly have a life coach ... They give you more knowledge that in the past you probably would have had to have paid quite a lot of money for.
"At the end of the day it's down to your willpower ... The minute the nagging becomes irritating I ignore it and the whole thing becomes useless. Eventually, you always get back to you."
Nag technology on the rise Future technology could be able to change people physically, it is claimed
But in years to come, when virtually everyone and everything becomes wi-fi connected, technology will not just be able to change our behaviour, it may be able to change us physically, according to an expert in Silicon Valley.
Dave Evans, chief futurist for Cisco, believes that by 2035 we will start to replace, by choice, perfectly good biological parts with electronic technology.
"Imagine for example being able to download a new skill over the network, download a new language because you need it because you're travelling, maybe you swap out a perfectly good eye for an artificial eye that gives you zoom vision."
So perhaps there will not be a place for "nag tech" in the future, although many might question whether there is a place for it now.
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