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Mobile technology: Getting too personal?

June 5, 2011

Lately I’ve been noticing some random every day gadgets that incorporate mobile technology in a cool way, such as the Android i’mWatch featured above which allows a user to access all of the functions and data from their mobile phone all while knowing exactly what time it is.

“Cool” technology that is seemingly needless always brings to light increasing trends, especially in this case to the expansion of mobile. From Smart phone watches to mobile robots and extremely personalized Apps, mobile technology is becoming all-inclusive to every function of a person’s life. While this is an exciting and historic milestone in the digital age, the new wave of “personalization” for mobile may have several drawbacks for a new generation.

Studies are released daily that detail humanity’s further descent into addiction with mobile technology. According to a study by Commercial Appeal , half of Smart phone owners say they can’t sleep if their phone wasn’t close at hand. This slightly disturbing fact that even sleep is second for many people to mobile’s power is a testament to its now global growth and the potential for mobile as a stand-alone technology in future generations.

With new technologies released daily that feed into mobile’s functionality and personalization, mobile technology is becoming not only “smart” but a power all its own.  For example, Nokia’s new “Mobile Bots,” is a “self-aware mobile robot” for the Nokia N97 Smart phone. The phone has four functions to become more knowledgeable and compatible with the use of its owner- such as the “Profile Bot,” which gathers information from the users’ mobile profile to self-monitor, such as by turning on silent when the user is in a meeting. Other bots include the “Alarm Bot,” which operates with the users’ sleeping schedule, “Shortcut Bot,” which makes available the applications that are used the most,  and “Battery Bot,” which reminds the user to charge the phone when it is low.

Is this a creepy new function for Smart phones? Slightly. However, its use is far-reaching. How many of us always wished that our gadgets could know our next move and simply do it for us? (IE Smart House.) But in light of the old science fiction trope where digital devices lash back against their owners, it is slightly unnerving to think about the power they have and are gaining in our society.

The rising trend of Apps created for increasingly personal functions is another eye-opening glimpse to an all-inclusive mobile-powered future. Currently, there are approx. 402,000 Apps in the Iphone store alone, all of which aim to target functionality to a wide base of consumers. For example, a new Iphone app called “One”  targets all voters, keeping a user up-to-date on politics and allows them to engage directly with their senator.

Other mobile innovations are much more instantaneous- including mobile wallets, like the upcoming Google Wallet, which allow users to access and use their credit cards without even bringing  a tangible wallet with them when they leave.

Of course this is a great step forward for the age of “instant.” In a marketing aspect, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Users know everything about a product with a touch of a button and can bring it with them everywhere they go.

For individuals and society as a whole, mobile is paving a simpler and instantaneous path to a wealth of information at their fingertips.

However, to protect ourselves from becoming robotic drones and “slaves” to mobile, we should unplug every once in a while and allow ourselves to get back to the basics of life and the individuals behind the mobile device.

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