Week 5 Assignment: Nolan Cady

At the world-renown Futures Technology Convention this last week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Adam Appell, CEO of Honeycrisp Inc., announced that the company has come across a technological advance in which television can automatically change channels based on the viewer’s mood and vital signs. Through, what Appell calls, the “Automatic Personal Preference Life Enhancer System” (APPLES) technology, Honeycrisp hopes to break the known barriers of television and open new doors for possible television experiences. The way it works is by using a bracelet that sends a signal to a receiver implanted within the television. The bracelet, capable of recording blood-pressure, heart rate, and perspiration doesn’t sound like that ground-breaking of an achievement in and of itself, but it also goes one further by tracking  emotional patterns. Emotions can be hard enough to decipher in person, let alone by a mini-computer, but the bracelet does a remarkable job at being accurate. Based from the other data that it collects, the bracelet memorizes what feelings are being felt in conjunction with what types of shows are being viewed. From this, it can change the channel automatically if the viewer’s mood changes.

Is this, however, a product that the public will want or see use for? Today’s culture is one of ease. Phones effortlessly navigate from one action to another, televisions now connect to the internet, cars park themselves, radios make stations designed for personal lifestyles – the list could go on forever. In theory, APPLES technology will fit right in with the demanding, yet adroit culture that is the modern world. Many media platforms are already using personalized categorization based on recently watched, viewed, or listened to choices, but few, if any, are using moods to automatically determine outcomes for the viewer. Imagine coming home from a long day of work and slipping on the APPLES bracelet. At work, the company printer fried itself and the coffee wasn’t stocked. The drive to and from work was lethargic, thanks to the other 4,000 people who have the same hours, and a roadside wreck slowed it down even more. Once the bracelet is put on, it determines you are feeling stressed and up pops that new lighthearted sitcom that just came out. Perfect. In this way, such technology could completely revamp how we think about making life easier.

Technology is not without its flaws though. Speech recognition technology is very faulty and is not complex enough to know every aspect of the human language. Lie detectors, which take vital signs into account, can also be fooled at times. So what would make the APPLES technology any different – a technology that tries to compute the most complex human attribute of emotion? If, for example, someone is watching a show and is completely happy with that program, but is then interrupted by their spouse for some reason, the channel is changed. Thinking that the viewers mood has been altered, the bracelet tells the television to change the channel. Even if the viewer was only momentarily irritated, the television took it as a definite change. Now the viewer is even more irritated with the fact that his or her channel has been compromised. Bugs like this should be expected and put into the consideration by the consumer public.

Putting this aside and focusing solely on the technological breakthrough itself, there are hundreds of possibilities that could stem from this find. Feeling like having Italian for dinner? A bracelet such as APPLES could interact with a phone or GPS and bring up directions for restaurants within a certain radius. Or even better, interactive menus at the restaurants themselves. After a hot run on the beach, you get in the car, sweaty and overheated, to go back home and the car knows to turn on the air conditioning. Honeycrisp has already responded to statements like this, saying, “We are extremely excited for the future. We have already began new projects involving ATM machines, printers, and even instruments.” Who knows, the future is not as far away as we may think.

If all goes to plan, Honeycrisp estimates that their APPLES technology will be available for consumers late next year with televisions starting at $5,000. Prices vary from model to model and are made to fit any decor, but all will include the bracelet with its cost. For the electronics industry, this is just the beginning of a new chapter in intelligent products.