The smart technology market is becoming supersaturated with technology that is extraneous and minimally impactful for the average person.
The smart technology market is becoming supersaturated with technology that is extraneous and minimally impactful for the average person. While there are some useful gadgets that help to preserve health and keep our homes and loved ones safer, other technologies seem to be moving into the realm of pointless. For example, according to an article on IoT World Today, there is now a smart wine bottle that can tell you how many glasses of wine you have remaining in a bottle. I suppose estimating with your eyes is too burdensome nowadays?
While a $179 dollar smart wine bottle may be a neat party trick, in reality, it serves up little value for the advancement of society. Smart technology like this attests that companies and engineers may be hyper-focused on the average person — perhaps at the expense of other minority groups. At Portal, we believe one such example of this is the disabled community.
Technology Is Supposed to Help, Right?
Until recently, people who use wheelchairs have had to struggle through public entryways by navigating to, and pressing on, a button to open a door. Said button may not be at an ideal height, nor location, and is likely difficult to press if you have a disability that limits the mobility of your arms or legs. In fact, many individuals find a push button entirely unusable. Why must people struggle to press a button, if nearly everyone has a super-computer in his or her pocket? According to research done at Portal, we’ve observed it takes a full minute or more for someone to open a door and pass through an entryway.
Imagine that for 24 hours, everyone had to stand outside each public door for 1 minute before entering it. If you had to enter 5 doors to get to your office, that means you’d have to tack on an extra 5 minutes to your commute — each way. Needless to say, I don’t think that society would have created a smart toothbrush camera before the smart accessible door.
A Technological Revolution
Here at Portal Entryways, we’re starting a movement to make smart technology more socially impactful by working with disabled individuals to innovate for equality. We’ve created a smart device that permits people with mobility issues to simply approach an entryway with their smartphone, have the door open for them hands-free, and have it stay open until they are safely through. This simple device is installable on any existing handicap motorized door, and does not affect the functionality of existing accessible buttons.
As a society, we already have the technology to make a big impact: With Portal, we’ve found that it only takes users an average of 3–5 seconds to enter a door. Remember those 5 doors that added an additional 5 minutes to your commute? We have the technology to transform that five minutes into 15 seconds — it is just not ubiquitous yet.
Let's Center Design Around People
Why isn’t simple, socially impactful, life-enhancing technology more widely available to minority groups with solvable needs? As for Portal, this technology puts the traditional “button push” method to shame and has the potential to save time, stress, and physical energy for those with disabilities. This analysis doesn’t even take into account the huge psychological and emotional benefits of feeling more independent by being able to enter a door at a reasonable pace by oneself. Perhaps smart doors should become a higher social priority than smart wine bottles?
Portal is just one example of how simple smart technology can be used for a higher purpose, and serve a social good. There are many other minority groups that still have a need that technology can solve, but companies and individuals have failed to step in because the market is relatively small.
In 2019, let’s look beyond the cookie-cutter lives of able-bodied people. Let’s focus on making simple technology that can have a huge impact on the lives of the few, and thus impact our society as a whole. It’s time we take smarter aim of our “smart” technology.