Sunday 22 September 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'Put a freeze on devices? Just try it'


When you’ve permanently bored teenagers it can be impossible to get them off their phones and doing something useful. (stock photo)
When you’ve permanently bored teenagers it can be impossible to get them off their phones and doing something useful. (stock photo)
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

You know what it's like as the long summer holidays continue to drag on. When you've permanently bored teenagers it can be impossible to get them off their phones and doing something useful.

Some parents resort to the stick approach: changing the wi-fi code daily until chores are done, banning devices at meals, but it's hard work.

One American mum removed all her daughter's devices after she started a kitchen fire through not paying attention to cooking because she was updating her social media.

After the teen (identified only as Dorothy - it went a bit viral in the end, thus defeating the purpose) used her hidden Nintendo DS to access Twitter instead, it too was removed.

Undeterred, Dorothy found a novel approach even she didn't think would work. She used her family's smart fridge to access the internet and started tweeting from it. "She [her mother] took all my tech so I'd pay more attention to my surroundings. I felt mortified! I was worried because I've been bored all summer and Twitter passes the time for me," she tweeted. And for us, Dorothy. And for us.

Anyhow, rather alarmingly, the fridge hack worked and manufacturers LG Electronics got in on the act, tweeting #FreeDorothy from their account, which I'm sure pleased mum no end.

If it were my child, she'd get an A for ingenuity and immediately be put in charge of all electronics from now on - clearing the dishwasher, washing the laundry and cleaning out… yes, the smart-alecky fridge.

The 'Internet of Things'? Be afraid, be very afraid

IT'S called the 'Internet of Things'. It's the scary way we're not just being enabled by the internet, but it's being encouraged to take over our lives in ever decreasing circles, leaving many wondering how much of us will be left once the web of interrelated machinery starts conversing between themselves without any human interaction.

Currently available technology includes contact lenses with sensors to analyse tears and send the information to your doctor, who might be annoyed to discover you've just been watching an old Lassie movie and don't, in fact, have macular degeneration.

Activity trackers and watches already download information on your heart rate, exercise, sleep and other intimate data to send to your health or life insurance company.

Ditto 'wearable' devices - T-shirts, glasses and jackets. While fit customers get price reductions, snarfing a packet of digestives on the sofa could result in a price hike. Aren't insurers supposed to be taking the risk, instead of you?

Medical implants under the skin monitor heart rate, diabetes and other ailments. Can the day be far off where these are mandatory before you can take out a policy, get offered a job or mortgage or allowed to watch any more 'Black Mirror' episodes? As someone who still has challenges with the microwave, I'm terrified.

BO sufferers shouldn't sniff at a second 'skin'

Some futuristic trends are promising. One of the wearable devices is a new bodysuit which can detect unpleasant odours. The 'Skin II' garment contains healthy bacteria which roots out the pungent stuff and leaves you smelling fresh as a breeze.

It's strange how nobody has invented something less imposing to do the same job - perhaps an underarm spray or something?

That aside, we all know someone who appears unable to smell themselves. You've gifted them fancy soaps and recommended great perfumes, only to be stonewalled.

What nicer present than an all-in-one bodysuit covered in bacteria? They'll never guess.

Irish Independent

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