A recent segment on the popular Comedy Central show The Colbert Report hit at the heart of a common issue with connected technology. As much as we talk about connected devices, and the value they can bring to everyday life, some people will always be uncomfortable with new technology.
The segment centers on a new product called GlowCaps, which helps elderly people remember to take their pills by flashing, playing an annoying ringtone, and finally calling the person if the pills still haven’t been taken. The Colbert bit played on the fact that older people aren’t known for reacting well to fancy technologies, saying sarcastically: “While old people can be forgetful, they are great when it comes to setting up the Internet, recognizing cellphone ringtones, and accessing voicemail messages.”
This of course is a good point. Many people over age 65 are luddites. But so are a number of people under 30. I have one friend who is 26 and has never, to my knowledge, sent a text message. She doesn’t even have the capability on her mobile phone. It’s not that she doesn’t understand the idea or the process of texting, she simply doesn’t find it is useful for her. I shudder to think of her trying to set up a connected pill bottle, or even navigating the ins and outs of Twitter.
On the other hand, we all know senior citizens who can text with the best of them, and who are whizzes at email and Web browsing. In short, some people will embrace new technology and others won’t, and it doesn’t always have to do with age.
I think people of all ages will embrace technology that is simple to use and actually makes their lives better. Simple to use may be the key, and iPad seems like an excellent example. People are hailing it as a laptop replacement for people who don’t do a lot of intensive computer work, including children and older people. Its simple interface and intuitive design may make it less intimidating than other computing devices, but that, of course, remains to be seen.