Gadgets rule? OK for some …

It would be disconcerting to a speaker, while in mid-flow of his oration, to see various members of the audience get up to move around – or to even walk around the auditorium and then return to their seats. Or for a busy restaurant owner suddenly to see the odd patron get up and walk outside for a few minutes then return to the table. They could be forgiven for thinking, “What’s going on here?”

The next wave of techno-gadgets has arrived, and for the observer, these odd displays of activity could be the result of the actions the gizmo tells the new users to perform. Sceptics may refer to this as self-enforced “tagging” but the blurb on it tells that this programmable device can monitor the wearer’s habits and actions and remind them of when they need to be more active – like getting up to have a walk around in order to burn off some calories! The Chancellor was spotted wearing one the other day, a black one. But apparently they come in a variety of other colours. They can be “synched” with a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet. These wristbands are marketed under the name “Jawbone UP.”

But I can’t imagine any of Jon Rutter’s stocktaking team having theirs turned on when they’re getting down to the serious business of giving feedback and reports of profit margins, security and pricing to their customers. They concentrate on the tasks at hand and don’t need interruptions!

But with the advent of this new type of device, “new challenges arise as to acceptable usage practice” (don’t you just love modern expressions?) in public places. In other words, when should you use it, or turn the thing off? Much like turning mobiles off when sitting down to eat and giving your dining companions your full attention. Or not answering the phone when you’re already in a meeting/conversation with other people. Or checking your Facebook alerts when you’re in the in the middle of a sales transaction. I suppose Mr Osborne had his turned off when he was in front of the Finance Committee the other day. Imagine his embarrassment if the thing had started vibrating to remind him to burn off some more calories right in the middle of a conversation about “quantitative easing.”

Other concerns about the increased use of technology and gadgets could spill over to other areas. One would have to be sure they were deactivated before walking through airport security. Probably also have them off while flying – hard to imagine the chaos if half the passengers had to get up at the same time to “move around” let alone what effect it would have on the avionics. And I don’t know whether they have an “Airplane Mode” or not. They’d probably be useless for chefs because they taste things all day and the “calorie intake” function may need constant rebooting. Waiters and other front of house staff would make a mockery of the “burn off calories” feature as they seem to be moving about all the time. The other day someone remarked that the reason we have an “energy crisis” is because all the electronic devices need charging every day and they didn’t plan for that 10 years ago!

One couple who will not be using one of these Jawbone UP’s is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – their own, personalised, portable device arrived safely on the 22nd and will remind them at regular intervals when they need to be active and move around! It’s so new, it hasn’t even been named yet. (24 July UPDATE: Portable device has now been identified as “GAL” short for George Alexander Louis)

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