Not long ago, you could measure what a piece of technology could do by its number of buttons. Thankfully, today’s gadgets aim to do lots more with less fuss. Apple may have started it with its stripped-back design, but now, whether it’s fridges or TVs, the idea is to simplify tasks that were previously so complex, most people were put off trying.
This means the latest TVs from Panasonic feature a camera in the top that allows Skype calls, and recognises who is watching in order to offer tailored programme suggestions. At last, trawling through menus may become a thing of the past, although you may need to push your partner out of the way so the TV sees you first.
Samsung, meanwhile, offers a palm-sized box that fits in the back of their 2012 TVs to upgrade their capabilities to match this year’s models. As a result, you can enjoy the latest features, including an improved on-screen start-up menu. This box is a consumer-friendly solution to the complications caused by technology’s ever-ferocious evolution.
Speaking of evolution, another key development is the use of gadgets to make us all healthier and perhaps relieve dieters of the burden of calorie counting. Following on from smartphones, smart TVs and other increasingly smart domestic appliances, there’s now the smart fork. It may look like a Fisher Price toy, but it claims to help you lose weight by slowing down the speed you eat – go above a pre-determined rate and it starts vibrating when you put it in your mouth. It’s just a matter of time before Silicon Valley’s restaurants adopt a BYO cutlery policy.
While this may be a gadget too far for a lot of us, the principle is clear: there is no area of our lives that will be untouched by technology. Smart appliances do the multi-tasking so we don’t have to, and Samsung’s vision for the smart fridge is a perfect example. Not only can it turn up the heating or order a takeaway, it also features a touchscreen that can suggest recipes as well as act as a screen for a video baby monitor that uses your smartphone as a camera.
Key to all these innovations is the quest to simplify our lives, whether that’s with a TV, a fridge or a vibrating fork.