Choobineh: Is technology being used properly?

Bijan Choobineh

One of the most peculiar aspects of technological society today is that of motion capture software. Motion capture software is commonly seen in entertainment devices. From the Nintendo Wii to Microsoft Kinect, this technology is taking hold of society. Technology has always been advancing since the dawn of time; we have come a long way since the wheel. The question is, is technology being used intelligently, or in other words, are there not better uses of this technology?

Now, let’s get something straight. Motion capture technology is impressive, and it has led to some remarkable achievements. The problem is that this technology is being wasted. When saying wasted, I mean it in a comparative sense. Comparatively, motion capture technology is being used on devices less helpful to the world at large.

To illustrate my point, let’s take a look at Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect is designed for the Xbox 360, which does what the Nintendo Wii did without the silly white controller. For example, you could potentially do jumping jacks in your living room, and in the game, you would do jumping jacks. Some of my acquaintances have used it to play Fruit Ninja, a game in which you essentially cut fruit. Is this technology really being put to good use?

Don’t get me wrong. I love video games and everything about them, but there are some issues here that need to be addressed. First, the Microsoft Kinect, for example, currently costs around $99.99. Going back to the Fruit Ninja example, the app on an iPod costs only 99 cents.

The question that I pose to you is, is it worth $99.99 to do the same thing you could do for 99 cents? Just like the Nintendo Wii, this is not only a gimmick, but an expensive gimmick that has varying levels of success with the games that it is compatible with. This is just an example of technology being put to waste.

The question that lies ahead is what is considered waste? Waste and usefulness of this technology does not run on a number line. In other words, I cannot give you a numerical analysis and say that an app like Fruit Ninja scores a six on how wasteful it is. However, comparative analysis can be used to judge the “waste” of technology on these products. For example, motion capture is being currently used to help aid treatment for people with Cerebral Palsy. This use of the technology to help people with Cerebral Palsy is a much better use of the technology than to swing at imaginary grapefruit. Although there is no number I can throw at you to prove this point, we all know deep down that the medical use of this technology is a better use of it.

Another example of misallocation of technology could be found in an aspect of Windows 8. Although the operating system is vast with a multitude of changes, the misallocation of technology is in the touch interface aspect of the operating system. If you see advertisements for the operating system, you will see people using this interface, touching the screen and choosing applications and what not.

Some would say that this is “the future,” but I am prone to disagree. Although I can understand why the touch user interface would be beneficial in some cases, I have to point out that currently, in most situations, the interface would not be too beneficial. I can’t exactly see myself using this aspect of the operating system to type a word document or do calculus homework online. Although this touch interface is fascinating, don’t you think this technology could be devoted to a more important use? This is just another example of fantastic technology being put to waste.

The Kinect is only an example of my concerns with the development of technology. Motion capture technology could have more important uses, such as research into robotics and medicine. Not to say that this technology is not being used in those areas, but do you really hear about them? The truth is, this technology is also being used in these areas, but not nearly as much and does not receive nearly as much publicity as some of these items are receiving.

The fact is, society determines what it wants to see more of. For example, if society craves a big sporting event, we get the SuperBowl. Society has the power to change many things as well. As a society, we need to have a more positive outlook and opinion on such uses of technology for it to be pursued more readily than some of these entertainment uses of this technology.

Bijan Choobineh is a senior in political science from Ames, Iowa.