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Have we reached gadget fatigue?

Tom Kaneshige | Sept. 6, 2013
Smartphones are everywhere, and smartwatches are poised to follow. Techies are eying Google Glass. And we now wear our technology on our sleeve. Have we finally reached gadget overload?

Recently, I wrote about the loneliness of today's mobile culture that included a video from My Science Academy showing a young woman making her way through the day surrounded by people on their phones. It's good enough to warrant a second viewing.

The most surprising part about this video is that it's full of Millennials, the tech-loving 20-somethings who supposedly can't live without their gadgets. This video is aimed at them, and Millennials have told me that they can relate to it and find the mobile culture somewhat tragic.

This reminds me of a 2011 Toyota Venza car commercial that shows parents going places while their daughter spends time on Facebook. The commercial amusingly raises the question: What is living? Clearly, people are starting to re-think how technology impacts our culture.

Return of Silicon Valley
Earlier this week, San Francisco Bay Area commuters awoke to a new Bay Bridge. Built to stand a hundred years and withstand powerful earthquakes, the bridge boasts an iconic white tower and a special road for eco-friendly bicyclists. It's a true marvel of workmanship with an eye on longevity and the future.

Just weeks before the Bay Bridge opening, Elon Musk captured a bit of the old Silicon Valley spirit when he talked about his Hyperloop project, a proposed transit system for whisking passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes via an underground tube.

It would be an amazing technological feat intended for the sole purpose of enabling more face time among people-not the iPhone's version of FaceTime.

This is the stuff Silicon Valley was known for, a place of powerful ideas and world-class technology. Silicon Valley companies have built software that runs billion-dollar companies and entire industries. They have revolutionized movie-making and inspired digital artists. Like a modern-day Prometheus, they defied conventional thinking and gave computing power to the masses.

Will tech companies return to those days of wonder and amazement? I hope so. Maybe Silicon Valley, too, is getting a little tired of churning out useless gadgets.


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