I am sitting here on a Friday at 4.23PM in…
Technology has been praised for improving productivity across virtually every industry, but also blamed for making us lazy, and distracting us from what makes us truly happy. Not only has it changed the way we do business, but also the ways we approach our lives. We’ve all wondered how things would be different without technology—whether we’d be more physically active, talkative, or even ambitious if it weren’t for our devices. But after taking a closer look at the direction some innovators are taking, technology might not be making us as lazy as we think. Consider these five apps that are pushing people to get out there.
1. Jukely (interview with the CEO): go to shows and meet new people
Called the “Netflix of music” because of UI and business model similarities, Jukely in fact has nothing to do with the famous movie streaming service. Rather than promoting home entertainment, Jukely motivates users to go out and explore live concerts. Jukely is a digital monthly concerts subscription service. For $25 dollars a month, users are able to attend as many gigs as they wish. As Jukely’s Founder and CEO, Bora Celik, told Agency Oasis in a recent interview, “Jukely can certainly help to alter people’s personal social habits. We’ve already seen, In contrast to a typical person who attends just 1–2 concerts annually, that Jukely users attend an average of 2–3 concerts per month. That’s a lot more time spent out and about.” Also, Jukely’s friend matching feature analyzes music taste data across the social graph and matches different friends (or friends of friends) with upcoming concerts near them that everyone will enjoy so you don’t have to go alone. The friend matching feature has always been important to Celik .“When we first set out, Jukely’s original function was to analyze data across social profiles via its app and website, matching friends – or friends of friends – with upcoming live concerts near them, based on shared preferences,” he says. “The platform tracks where music-lovers and their friends are based, in addition to their musical tastes, enabling concert promoters and venues to increase traffic to their events. Jukely’s biggest hurdle is getting people off the sofa from watching Game of Thrones.” Now, Game of Thrones is awesome, so that’s admittedly a tough one. Still, we have strong hopes that Jukely will succeed—it’s truly making going out easier and more fun than ever.
2. Walc: stress-free walking
The advent of GPS has reduced the need for paper maps and, some argue, the ability for self-orientation. Standard GPS technology does not allow for our brains to form “mental maps,” or mental paths that we associate with familiar surroundings and remember through repeated exposure. Walc is a navigation app that aims to bridge the gap between GPS and mental maps to promote walking and exploring. The app, now in beta testing in New York City, promises to give walking directions to its users by using familiar landmarks instead of streets (for example, “turn right at McDonald’s” vs. “turn right in 300 feet”). By making navigation easier, more intuitive, and less “awkward” (no more spinning in circles to calibrate your “compass”), Walc hopes to spark a stronger desire to walk around and discover the city organically. The content that Walc shares on its social media pages is aimed at promoting a healthy, walking-friendly lifestyle. Articles such as “10 Things I Love About Walking” and updates on events happening around town are additional ways to promote activities that are anything but lazy.
3. Automated Flight Control: flying has never been safer
According to a study by NASA, when a loss of control event occurs during a flight, it is most often the result of human error. However, as Federal Aviation Administration statistics published in this article show, since autopilot technology was introduced, the amount of incidents due to human error has been reduced drastically. As a senior manager of Alitalia, Italy’s biggest airline, explained to Agency Oasis, using autopilot increases control of the plane and, at the same time, allows the flight crew to do other things, such as studying the route, execute check-ups more frequently, perform physiological activities, and leave the cockpit to help passengers in case of medical emergencies or other conflicts. Separately, Bill Voss, President of the Flight Safety Foundation says, “I can’t imagine how many people have been saved by automation, but what we haven’t done a good job of is evolving our training with the changes.” When accidents happen and the public blames it on the laziness of the pilot, they should rather consider another issue, which is the lack of appropriate training and evolution of the whole system revolving around the innovation.
4. Shine: workout, sleep, and look great
Weight problems are something that we battle with internally and that we rarely share in detail with our friends, let alone strangers. With this in mind, innovations like the fitness tracker Shine are working to make exercising as easy, fashionable, and unnoticeable as ever, to help people lose weight without being asked too many questions. Shine comes with a variety of accessories, such as bracelets and pendants, which mask the fitness tracker device and make it look like a regular accessory. Additionally, its features allow users to set goals, track progress, and share updates with specific people, increase awareness of their health, and push them to workout even more. From a sustainability perspective, Shine doesn’t need to be charged electronically—it utilizes an energy harvesting technology from the light: another way to encourage being outdoors rather than staying at home. In many ways, Shine can be considered an entertainment device similar to video games, a technology that has been blamed for gluing players to their couch rather than encouraging them to conduct a healthy and active lifestyle. However, Shine is different. In order to make it work, the player must move and do something. Definitely a more active option than staying home and playing FIFA 16.
5. Kickstarter: build the next cool thing in the comfort of your home
The Internet has brought loads of information to virtually everyone on earth with access to a computing device. But has this made us lazier? Consider this video showing how teenagers react when asked to look through a paper encyclopedia: most of them find it hard, boring, and time consuming, and one of them even says that he would hate researching using books, because “now you can just hit Command+F and find what you need.” However, digital innovations like the crowdfunding incubator Kickstarter show how you can leverage your knowledge, no matter how you acquired it, to bring projects to life. Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for projects of all kinds, from food, to photography, to technology (which is currently the most popular category, with 868 live projects). Kickstarter opens entrepreneurial possibilities to everybody, which pushes us to optimize our free time and make something rather than sit around.
Technology is Opportunity
The claim that technology makes us lazy is lazy in itself. It’s not technology that makes us lazy, is the way we use it that does. Technology is not inherently good or bad, it’s just a tool that we have at our disposition which, as shown by the examples above, can be used positively and in the right measures to promote a safer, active, and healthier life with more opportunities than ever before. Technology is power, and with power comes responsibility. It’s up to us to learn how to be smart users, even smarter inventors, and use innovation as a way to take more out of life.