I was at a routine doctor’s appointment last week and at the end of the visit, I needed refills on a couple prescriptions. I watched as my doctor struggled with a host of logins and passwords to get to the right message to get to the right pharmacy. He, and many doctors, work with multiple hospitals and so far their systems are not properly connected. We got to chatting about the irony – technology should be making our lives more convenient, but in this case writing out a paper prescription would have been much easier.
As the Annual CES Show in Las Vegas came to a close recently, I was hoping to hear about some new technologies that will start making our already time-starved lives easier. By many accounts the show this year was underwhelming at best. Smart phones were the last great innovation and certainly some apps have made our lives easier, (Uber is a favorite of mine), but making a smartphone curved is not going to help me or anyone else be more efficient.
“You only need a phone and a tablet and a laptop, and maybe you need a TV and some headphones, but that covers 90 percent of the needs for 90 percent of the population,” said Mr. Lam, the editor of The Wirecutter, a gadget website. “But this industry that employs all of these engineers, and has all of these factories and sales people, needs you to throw out your old stuff and buy new stuff — even if that new stuff” is only slightly upgraded. Nick Bilton, New York Times.
And the big “innovation” at CES this year was all about wearable technology – everything from Google Glass to smart watches – all of these gadgets supposedly enable us and give us more information to live better lives. I hypothesize that none of these new technologies will make our lives better and could very well make them even more stressful and distracting. Having information that I already get via my iPhone on my wrist or in my visual field is not going to take away the stress of my already packed inbox and all those LinkedIn messages that I don’t have time to answer.
People who know me, know I have always been an early adopter of the latest and greatest technology, (I am reminded how I had my .com team wear pagers in the early 2000s…). I always have the latest smartphone and the fastest and lightest laptop – sometimes I have gone through 5+ laptops in a year because the technology was improving so rapidly. Having a speedier and lighter laptop made my life more efficient and gave me some valuable time back. That’s what I am looking for in technology innovation, not a watch that is going to do the exact same thing as my iPhone.
Real innovation in technology should improve our lives and help us out in our fast-paced, time-starved world. Until then, it’s up to us to find some balance. Take off a weekend day for a digital detox, don’t spend too much time responding to meaningless connections and building fruitless online relationships and focus on the real relationships in your life. Find some quiet time for reflection and thinking; take a meditation class. It’s up to us. How do you cope with our highly-connected, time-starved world?