expressed opinion entrepreneur Contributors are themselves.
Whenever you read an article about consumer technology, you’re usually talking about RAM, screen size, battery duration, memory, or a dozen other similar metrics.
Tech focuses on these metrics because electronics are so central to the way people live and work that tech companies dedicate resources to developing more and better devices.this from the huge $708 billion spent The sheer volume of research and development and new products released every day. Unfortunately, this focus on electronics has also had negative consequences.
Technology has become too obsessed with short-term gains, frequently releasing products that try to be the “fastest,” “thinnest,” or “most powerful,” but lack the long-term staying power of a timeless, well-designed product. This leads to a proliferation of poor-quality products and products that are quickly forgotten, and limits the development of meaningful, useful, and durable technologies.
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While climate change is on the agenda every day, sustainability and the circular economy are far from it.Made in the USA only 6.92 million tons of electronic waste in 2019 — Approximately 46 lbs per person. Meanwhile, technology consumers are indulging in content about the millionth new product on the market.
Companies must strive to develop technologies that pay more attention to the environment and long-term impact. In fact, promoting stale or edgy products isn’t very sexy. But sometimes, updating something existing slightly to reduce waste, or adding a layer of basic utility, yields the most value.
The grand tradition of kicking off the new year is for technologists from all walks of life to gather in Las Vegas for CES, the world’s largest tech conference. Walking around the thousands of exhibits, it couldn’t be more obvious that electronics are number one, number two, number three, and number four in terms of tech writers’ priorities.
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But sandwiched between gadgets and gizmos, you’ll find innovations that are more important than you might initially think, such as GAIT-TECH, which has launched a biomechanical device integrated into the insole of high-heeled shoes during the production phase. When the foot is in vertical flexion, the device cushions and relieves women’s pain—without artificial intelligence, batteries, bells or whistles.
It shows that technology isn’t just about the latest and greatest gadget. Its main purpose should be to make people’s lives better, more efficient, and more enjoyable. This sometimes means avoiding the urge to put all your eggs in the electronics basket and look for other solutions.
What we need is an improved perception of technology and its uses. Wider adoption of human-centric products should take precedence over popular ones. But this requires a shift in technology consumers, technology media, and technology creators.
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Consider mRNA technology. If it weren’t for the global pandemic, very few of us outside of the scientific community would have heard of it. But mRNA vaccines represent the culmination of decades of research ripe for fruition. Still, it’s not in the public consciousness at all.
Or think of new recycled materials in fashion. Innovative fast fashion that doesn’t tax the planet will be a game-changer on many levels. Still, we haven’t heard of these advances outside of the fashion industry.
Stella McCartney launched an alternative leather bag made from mushroom roots; LanzaTech’s carbon-capturing material now features in Zara collections; and Gucci owner Kering backs lab-based synthetic leather startup VitroLabs. These are technological advances worth watching. But as a non-fashion connoisseur, it’s easy to think that the most important advancement in fashion technology lies in the invention of waterproof fabrics by Gore-Tex. These technological leaps were made more than 50 years ago.
I might be a little harsh on CES, considering the C and E in the acronym are short for “consumer” and “electronics,” but it stands. Advances in biomechanics or pharmaceuticals have as much, if not more, impact on our lives than electronics.
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Finding the balance between what’s sexy and what provides long-term utility is difficult. We should applaud the newfound and growing ubiquity of electronics in our lives, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of understanding technology as an ever-evolving tool.
This gap presents opportunities for innovators and technologists. Working in technology doesn’t require everyone to know how to code or have a degree in electrical engineering. So, take a moment to leave the world of electronics and venture into new and innovative fields. That would be a New Year’s resolution worth keeping.
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