iLife: Smart Technology and Our Increasing Dependency of It

Smart De·vice (n.)

/smärt/dəˈvīs/

1. An electronic device that is cordless (unless while being charged), mobile (easily transportable), always connected (via WiFi, 3G, 4G etc.) and is capable of voice and video communication, data, internet browsing, “geo-location” (for search purposes) and that can operate to some extent autonomously.


For the remainder of this post the above definition of ‘smart’ device will be used for continuity purposes.

The fastest growing technology is recent history is, without a doubt, the ‘smart’ device. Many think the term was brought to the forefront of popular culture with the advent of the first iPhone in 2007, but the first smart device was actually the IBM Simon. The Simon, introduced in 1994, was the first to combine a mobile phone with a PDA and included a touchscreen, email capabilities, and more. 

simon-smartphone
IBM Simon (left) and the iPhone 4s (right)

 

The Simon was the first ‘smart’ device and made it possible for further technological advances. The next notable induction to the ‘smart’ device timeline was the first iPhone in January of 2007. Apple was the first one to successfully mainstream the ‘smart’ device. Since then the adoption rate of ‘smart’ devices increased exponentially. The adoption rate of smart devices has surpassed any other technology in history to become the fastest adopted technology. It was adopted three times faster than the adoption of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and twice as fast as the internet boom in the 1990’s. Not only are they abundant in society but ‘smart’ devices are also a money maker for companies. The ‘smart’ device market is expected to hit $2.5 billion in 2015. Other ‘smart’ devices that came from this include but aren’t limited to: smart tvs, smart cars, smart homes, tablets, computers, and smart wearable devices such as google glass and the Apple Watch. Without a doubt ‘smart’ devices are widely prevalent in the current cultural sphere. This presence it holds is both good, as it makes life more convenient, and bad as it promotes a sense of dependency on these devices.

The first thing one might think of when mentioning a ‘smart’ device is connivence. ‘Smart’ devices help to simplify our life in many different ways. The article “10 ways mobile devices are changing society” mentions some of the good effects ‘smart’ devices have on society.

best-iphone-navigation-directions-app2xThanks to smart phones with built in GPS systems (pictured left) we always know how to get to the intended destination. No more driving around aimlessly looking for your destination. All you have to do it pull out your smart phone or utilize the smart aspects of your vehicle and you will be at your destination in no time. These smart aspects do not just stop at directions. The most recent technology built into cars include self parking technology, and built in wifi. These cars thought to only have existed in the future slowly but surely making their way to a showroom near you.

‘Smart’ devices also make you readily available to individuals who need to get in contact with you. Wether it be an e-mail, text, or call ‘smart’ devices make sure that the intended party gets whatever message that is being sent their way. The current shift towards wearable devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass just reinforce this notion that individuals are always connected.

Apple_Watch
Apple Smart Watch

 

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Google Glass

 

Wearable ‘smart’ devices help to ensure that the user never misses a text or alert. Not only do they keep us connected but they keep us entertained as well. There are games loaded onto mobile ‘smart’ devices which help pass the time when someone needs till kill time.

‘Smart’ Devices, like all things, have it’s faults as well. The use of ‘smart’ technology has brought about a concern of media dependency and violations of privacy

Media dependency is thought of as an increasing issue by psychologists around the world. Experts in the field say that ‘smart’ device use has become anbreen

addiction with varying consequences ranging from harmful effects on communication skills to severe things like a death resulting from texting and driving. Said effects on communication skills include: nervous demeanor when speaking, avoidance of communication in favor of phone usage, and the use of technology as a social crutch. This addiction to technology that has developed does not come as a surprise to many because the majority of the population is attached at the hip to their cell phones and other devices. The more severe side of addiction include accidents caused by ‘smart’ device use. There has been many public service announcement’s done about texting and driving because it has become such a problem in our society. Many primetime television shows even feature an episode on texting and driving. 

On the more severe end of the spectrum there is concern that our ‘smart’ devices are getting a little bit too smart and our dependency is an enabling factor. Technology is always advancing and will continue to get faster, smarter, and better in the future. Popular culture reflected this advancement even before the advent of ‘smart’ devices through movies like Disney’s Smart House and Back To The Future. Both movies presented an advanced version of the current time period’s technology. Smart House centered around a family who moved into a technologically advanced house that eventually turned on them because it got too smart. Back To The Future, which was released in the 80s, presented a technologically advanced future.

Back_to_the_FutureMV5BMTgzMDAyNzY3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDU0NjgxMQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_ 

Essentially the stronger, faster, and smarter technology gets the more users need to be careful. This brings into question if ‘smart’ devices need regulation. The major concern held is that these always connected devices such as smart refrigerators and smart watches can be hacked. The Federal Trade Commission is now taking a closer look at these devices that collect and send user data over the internet to ensure that it is used for intended purposes. 

Recently, consumer uproar started over Samsung’s Global Privacy Policy regarding their SmartTVs. The specific part of the policy that garnered attention was the following: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” This wording raised red flags to their consumer base because they felt as though their SmartTV was spying on them. The issue was that Smart TVs were listening to your conversations waiting for one of the verbal commands that it recognizes. This means that your personal information is among that data sent to a third party. Said third party is Nuance Communication who deals with many other speech recognition devices including Apple’s personal assistant Siri. This privacy scare, along with many others, has is one of the downfalls of technology dependence. 

In conclusion, ‘smart’ devices are ingrained in society and promote a sense of dependency. This sense of dependency has a negative impact on the user in the form of harmful effects on communication skills and a danger in loss of privacy.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 2.25.19 PM

 

 

 

 


References

  1. Your Samsung smart Tv is spying on you basically, by Shane Harris for the Daily Beast, February 5, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/your-samsung-smarttv-is-spying-on-you-basically.html
  2.  Samsung global policy smart TV supplement, By Samsung, February 2015, https://www.samsung.com/uk/info/privacy-SmartTV.html
  3. Do smart devices need regulation? FTC examines internet of things, by Amadou Diallo for Forbes, May 1, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/amadoudiallo/2013/11/23/ftc-regulation-internet-of-things/
  4. Dependance on tech has made securities markets vulnerable to cyber attacks, for The Hindu Business Line, May 1, 2015, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/markets/dependence-on-tech-has-made-securities-markets-vulnerable-to-cyber-attacks/article7081304.ece
  5. Smart phone dependency: a growing obsession with gadgets, by Ellen Gibson for USA Today, May 1, 2015, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/medical/health/medical/mentalhealth/story/2011/07/Smartphone-dependency-a-growing-obsession-to-gadgets/49661286/1
  6. Smart device market to hit $2.5 billion in 2015 for Global News Wire, May 1, 2015, http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/04/13/723850/10128560/en/Photo-Release-Smart-Device-Market-to-Hit-2-5-Billion-in-2015.html
  7. Smart devices – the fastest technology adoption in history for Solentive Software, May 1, 2015, https://www.solentivesoftware.com.au/market-insights/articles/447-smart-devices-the-fastest-technology-adoption-in-history-90
  8. The history of smartphones: timeline, by Charles Arthur for The Gaurdian, May 1, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/jan/24/smartphones-timeline
  9. First smartphone turns 20: fun facts about simon, by Doug Aamouth for Time Magazine, May 1, 2015, http://time.com/3137005/first-smartphone-ibm-simon/
  10. Smart car tech encouraged in u.s., by Nedra Pickler for ABC News, May 1, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=119657
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