Saturday, May 10, 2014

Technology socks

    Somewhere between rocks and sucks, my recent Sonos purchase has been driving me mad today. When it works it's fantastically transparent. A combination of Spotify premium and every compute device in my house acting as a remote means I've been listening to a hell of a lot more music this past two months than probably the whole of last year - oddly enough not a much wider variety, simply the same tracks many more times.

    I'm truly loving it, when it works. When it doesn't (like today, when I'm unable to authenticate my Spotify account via Sonos, for some unfathomable reason, or like last week when my wireless network acted as though my friends has brought an EMP generator into the house) it makes me realise just how frustrating it is when things don't "just work".

    My Neato Signature Pro, purchased at about the same time, has so far simply "just worked". I plop it down, it vacuums the room, I empty the dust box, rinse and repeat. Fantastic technology. I'm certain that if it had usability or reliability issues, I'd be slagging it off but it hasn't demonstrated any problems yet, so in my books it's perfect.

    Technology is hitting many targets now that even recently I would have considered science fiction. I'm confident that we'll hit a few more benchmark points over the course of this decade; Consumer VR for entertainment and (more importantly) teleconferencing / teleparticipation. Automated vehicles (although this is likely to bleed into the next decade before it becomes predominant for private transport). Home automation devices that require motion of the unit (robot vacuums that deal with stairs, decorating robots, cleaning robots able to deal with showers and baths, that sort of thing).

    The main thing that will stop any general public acceptance isn't the feature set - there's a certain minimum bar in all the above examples that will be good enough. No, the thing that will stop general public acceptance is if these devices don't "just work". If the technology hovers between rock and suck, most people simply won't deal with the foibles and down time, they'll steer clear.