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Technology Is Not The Solution To Everything

Technology Is Not The Solution To Everything

I’m a tech guy, I work in tech, and for as long as I can remember I have championed the tech movement in all areas of work and play.

When I was 10 years old, I remember getting my first computer, a ZX Spectrum. I didn’t do too much with it apart from waiting for the tape to load a game and listening to the infamous high pitched squeals it made during loading. Knight Lore was one of my favourite games even though it was a 10 minute load time, and I used to pray it wouldn’t crash half way through the loading process!

For those too young to remember, Knight Lore was way ahead of its time and crazy all at the same time. In short, the game worked on a 24 hour clock cycle, you took control of this guy in an isometric world and at 12am on the dot, your character would throw a fit and turn into a werewolf! They don’t make ’em like that anymore!

Since that time, technology has moved in ways I could never have imagined when I was a young kid. Thinking back to that time, I guess I was pretty lucky to have a computer, I know many of my friends never had one and it’s probably something that paved the way for my adult working life and the very reason I am in the tech industry now.

We now live in a very different world. I dare say that there’s not one single day that goes by when you don’t hear some reference to technology in one way or another. You will likely interact with 5 or 6 items daily that are technology related, whether it’s your car, your fridge, your TV, your washing machine, your lighting and the obvious such as your mobile phone, computer etc.

I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some great technology leading companies including Microsoft, Apple, Pointr Labs and many more.

My job is to research the latest technologies and work with companies who are in the development stages of product design and help advise on best practice and approach to accessible design. A universal approach that works for all.

More recently, I am often seeing technology used for the sake of using technology. We have got to the point where individuals, companies and governments are implementing technology solutions for absolutely everything.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many problems that technology can help solve but it’s just as important to take a step back and consider if a low tech solution makes more sense in this technology age we live in.

As an example, I have been working on a project to help people with sight loss navigate train stations. The whole project was based on a 100% technology led solution. A train station is one of the most dangerous and daunting environments a person with sight loss can experience so the solution needs to be incredibly robust and accurate. The fact is, around 95% of people with sight loss have some form of residual vision so a low tech solution combined with technology can make all the difference.

The technology solution for the project was to provide location details so the blind person could exit the station. Indoor location is notoriously difficult to crack, and based on the end user we were providing for, has to be incredibly accurate.

An alternative low tech solution would be to provide a high contrasting coloured line with arrows, such as green, on the floor of the station leading to the exit. This would not only be far easier for the person with sight loss to follow but has universal approach written all over because it would also be useful for people with sight as well. Not forgetting that this is also very cost effective.

Everything today focuses on ‘smart’. Smart lamp posts, smart motorways, smart kettles. The question I ask, does everything have to be ‘smart’? Are there alternatives that provide a far better solution that are non-tech related?

I believe when focusing on finding a solution we should first ask ourselves “Is there a non-tech related solution that might work really well for this problem?”

Whenever there’s a problem to overcome, everyone and his dog automatically thinks of a technology solution, and it’s hardly surprising based on the world we live on and the conditioning we have lived with for the last 30 years.

I believe, if we first exhaust the non-tech related solutions for a problem then we’ll find that the technology we do interact with on a daily basis reaps far greater benefits.

Technology Is Not The Solution To Everything

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