Is Technology Making our Life Simpler?

I remember when I was a kid and the TV remote control consisted of the numbers for the channels, the power button, and the volume buttons; that was it. Now there are buttons for everything including a menu button which allows you to fine tune even more options. Check out this slick new remote

What other devices can you think of? My microwave has two settings defrost and cook? pretty self explanatory. You turn the time knob and presto the microwave starts whirring.  Granted, I got it in college and not much else I could have done with it then? but I go over to other peoples houses to use the microwave and I feel like a technotard searching for the GO button. Another device that pops into my mind is my cell phone. Just when I think I got all cozy and feature happy with my Nokia, I go to get a new cell phone, and it takes 5 minutes just to find the talk button!

Here is the catch, as more and more appliances are unified or professional features are brought in to the home, the devices become more complicated. Manufactures have to strike a balance. They have to pick what features a consumer would most likely want to use and put those in the face of the customer first. For example, on your digital camera, how many of the settings do you actually use? Or on your TV? Or when was the last time you played with all the options on your receiver or tweaked every desktop setting on your computer?

I don?t see the trend of high end features making their way in to consumer devices slowing down anytime soon. More and more devices are coming our way with a myriad of features. So, what is a consumer to do? For the most part we have to become pseudo experts.  This is having very limited success. For example, I?m pretty sure that I have my home theater system set up correctly, but unless I have an expert come in and show me, how am I going to tell?  Also, most consumers need to RTFM. That is a given. But, those manuals are getting thicker and thicker. And why should I have to learn all about every setting on the microwave, just so I can heat a burrito? The buttons should be clearly marked and with only the few choices a consumer would actually use!

One problem that many companies are having is support costs. Manufactures need to trim down their features and make things super simple. Consumers aren?t getting smarter but their appliances are. It?s time for the appliances to be simplified down to our level? Print photo? mow lawn? call mother? Is that too much to ask?

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


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