2015: The Year That Lazy Tech Kills Us All

By Gerald Lynch on at

That gym pass collecting dust? Your "Places to See Before I Die" list as long as it's ever been? The pages of your "How to Code: For Dummies" book resolutely closed? January is nearly over and with it, for many of us, will go any chance of making a dent in our New Year's resolutions.

Technology is often an enabler when it comes to making good on promises of self-betterment. A fitness tracker like a Fitbit can give you the impetus needed to get off the sofa and into your running shoes, while a new laptop or tablet can be a gateway into a realm of new knowledge to absorb.

But 2015 saw the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kick off the year with a somewhat surprising trend: a handful of gadget-makers seemed to be actively developing tech to aid us in our lazy habits. This could be found to be horrifyingly regressive, or warrant applause in the face of the zealous fitness nuts who insist on ramming their Nike+ stats down your social feeding tubes, but even a quick glance around the industry seems to suggest developers are happy for us to become increasingly passive vessels for their wares.

Here's a quick run down of the services and devices that, perhaps despite good intentions, could be numbing our brains or sending us to a flabby early grave.

The Belty Smart Belt

Emiota's Belty is the spark for this whole train of thought. Revealed at CES 2015, it's a "smart belt", capable of adjusting itself on the fly to adapt to your waistline. While the companion app, with its fitness-tracking metrics aided by the belt's built-in accelerometer, points towards flab-fighting intentions for the trouser loop, the belt can also loosen if necessary too. Yep, sensors will be able to note if you've put on a few inches around your waist, or have even had a particularly bloating lunch, and knock the belt down a notch or two looser. You need not even be inconvenienced by the discomfort of pinching belt in the fat-friendly future of tomorrow.

Rollkers Powered Skates

One more CES delight, the Rollkers powered skates are another item destined to make the lives of the lazy even slobbier. Whereas a regular pair of skates require you to exert more effort to pick up speed, the Rollkers merely require you to walk at a slow pace in order to be speed up incrementally with each step.

Rather than pumping those thigh and calf muscles to get somewhere faster on regular skates, you won't even have to break a sweat to double your average walking speed on the Rollkers. The motorised skates even have an accompanying app that adjusts speeds to take into account uphill or downhill climbs and descents, meaning you shouldn't even need to shift your weight too much.

Add the Rollkers to the Belty and you start seeing a picture that looks something like this:

which leads us conveniently onto...

Honda Uni-Cub

Honda's only gone and bloody made the one-man indoor transport seats from Wall-E! Honda's new and improved Uni-Cub was revealed last summer, but is still in the development stages in 2015:

When it is eventually made available to buy (for quite a pretty penny, you'd imagine) riders will be able to coast along at a serene 3 mph, merely shifting your arse-weight slightly to steer the vehicle and propel yourself forward. While its potential as a mobility aid for the elderly is obvious, I can also see gamers riding these from a desk to a fridge and back to their Warcraft raids without ever even standing up.

Smartwatches

If, like at least one Gizmodo writer, you believe that the smartwatch revolution won't really kick into gear until Apple's taking part, 2015 should be the year that wrist-based computing takes off. Smartwatches are pretty much the definition of "lazy tech"; as yet, I've seen now application that a smartwatch can perform that can't be carried out just as well (or more likely, better) using a computer or smartphone.

So at this point in time, what's a smartwatch's main function? Merely to save you the effort of reaching into your pocket and pulling out your smartphone to perform a task; your pocket that's a whole two or three inches from where your arms naturally rest. Dear God.

 Hackers List and the Glitter Bombers

Need to engage in some industrial espionage, or merely check through someone else's emails that your bae ain't shagging your best mate? Rather than spend years studying code and software weaknesses, why not take the easy route and hire someone to do your hacking for you?

You see, lazy tech doesn't have to be limited to physical gadgetry: your apathy can be nurtured through services too. For a couple of hundred quid, Hackers List will set you up with your own personal professional hacker, ready to delve into another person's (or company's) private data for a price, without you needing any hacking skill of your own – or courage to carry out the nefarious, illegal deeds.

If you prefer your revenge to be a little more sparkly – but equally hands-off – you can even pay someone to do your pranking for you these days. ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com started out as a joke, but soon turned into a real business when its creator found that the internet is full of people ready to part with cash so as not to get off their arses and wind up a foe in person.

JustAskMeOut

If you couldn't work up a sweat on the treadmill in the past, even the most hardcore lothario would drip a few beads of "terror sweat" when approaching an attractive person in a bar. The fear of rejection, the excitement of a returned smile – all enough to get that heartbeat raised.

But for generation Tinder, breaking the ice is merely a smartphone swipe away. Taking the concept to its natural conclusion is JustAskMeOut.co.uk. With a single click, you can ask a person on a date. There's no chit-chat, no cheesy one liners, and no arguable unnecessary expenditure of energy. Your dignity may be saved, but your heart rate has dropped to elephantine speeds.

Oculus Rift and Virtual Reality Headsets

Perhaps the worst offender of all however is the Oculus Rift, and the wave of virtual reality imitators it's brought with it. Hooked up to a reasonably powerful computer, the Facebook-owned VR headset can transport you (digitally) anywhere in the world, while you're sat at the comfort of your computer desk. Never seen the pyramids? Download an Oculus tour. Need to travel for a business meeting? Meet your co-workers in Oculus avatar-land, ala Snow Crash. Miss your mum's birthday? Act like you give a shit by calling her for some quality (virtual) one-on-one time while in reality you're sat in your pants, your fatty rolls oozing over your computer chair.

Just as with Microsoft's freshly-unveiled HoloLens, the Oculus Rift has overwhelming potential to be "A Good Thing" for humanity, letting us experience incredible things in a simulated realm that may otherwise be out of reach in reality. But the further down the virtual-reality rabbit hole we go, the more that so-called "Meat Space" will feel like a chore. In the age of the Oculus Rift, your New Year fitness regime may consist of just how quickly your sausage fingers can hammer the "RUN" button.

Image Credit: Portrait of lazy overweight person (modified) from Shutterstock


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