In The Field

Emerging Tech: it sure aint TiVo

My personal benchmark for transformative technology is TiVo. Like many women I approach new technology as a tool, with the modest hope that it will enhance my life, but no expectation that it will define or transform me. TiVo was different. When this personal video recorder entered my world it changed the way I viewed TV forever. Now I watch shows on my schedule and skip all the boring commercials. What’s more it had a smart and intuitive user interface and a remote control I could care for. Thanks to its friendly curves and intelligent fastfwd and rewind I was hooked.

None of which can be said about the interactive name badge technology – nTAG – being offered to attendees of the EmTech meeting. Sure, it is kinda like wearing the TV remote control around your neck. But who wants to do that? After a 15 minute tutorial I learn it means I can swap contact info with other attendees electronically: once we’ve lined up the consoles and figured out which buttons to press. And I can review the meeting schedule, receive messages from the organisers, or take part in feedback surveys. Oh and there may be some instant voting later.

Hmm, I’m underwhelmed. It’s clumsy to use and ugly to look at. By the end of the first session I’ve already decided the device is too heavy to hang round my neck. I spy other attendees swapping business cards, the old-fashioned way. An earlier generation nTAG device was twice the size of this one(!) and required a neoprene neck support. Can I have a paper name badge please?

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