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Technology replacing personal interactions at what cost?

Nowadays, its seems that human interactions are getting lesser. 

We are awash in technology. It’s estimated that 99% of Singaporeans now use cell phones or wireless devices. And one-third of those people are using so-called smartphones, which means the users can browse the Web and check e-mail on their phones.

In other words, most of us spend our days walking around with our noses buried in our cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones, etc.

And while we’re doing that, we’re tuning out the people who are actually in the same room as us. We seem to have long ago crossed the line as to where doing this stuff is appropriate – people take calls while they’re out to dinner, text or check e-mail while on a date, you name it.

Some experts say it’s time to take a step back and reassess. They’re reminding people that technology can be turned off, and that it’s important to connect with people in person. They worry that kids won’t know what it’s like to share a story or actually look someone in the eyes. And that’s sad.

But others point out the benefits of all this technology – staying in touch with friends and family, efficiently using time once spent doing nothing and being able to check in from anywhere.

To spice up our virtual interactions capacity, Pranav Mistry invented a device, paradigm-shifting paper laptop.

In his interesting TED talk (watch below) on ‘The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology’, Pranav Mistry shows several self built hardware tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data. He also discusses his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper laptop in detail. He says that he’ll open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its possibilities to all.

This reminds me a lot on Prof. Hiroshi Ishii’s Tangible User Interfaces‘, (Tangible Media Group) research group at MIT, who’s work i really admire since my studies at the university. The Tangible User Interface group continuously publish great work on the challenge how to build tangible real world interfaces to interfere with digital artefacts. They combine art, media and technology to invent great interfaces!

I love great gadgets and admire how technology has helped humanity in many ways. But here’s my question to you: At what cost has technology replaced personal interactions? Is there a way to strike a balance between these two entities?

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