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Sometimes, tech isn’t the answer…

Sometimes, tech isn’t the answer…

Posted on 2nd November 2020

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Don’t get me wrong.  I love tech. I’ve got an Alexa and gadgets galore in the house.  I think the IoT is going to transform the ways we live.  But sometimes you just have to admit that not every great idea from the world of technology is a winner.  In my opinion, this applies in spades in the case of the “smart tablecloth,” which has been developed by Microsoft and various universities. 

Called Capacitivo, the reports on this – what is it, a domestic appliance, a cooking aid, a bit of cloth? – tell us that it is “particularly helpful for cooking.”

Now, as it happens, I’ve been getting a lot better at cooking, what with being stuck in the house for months and having to get more creative with the deliveries from Tesco (other supermarkets are available). However, apparently I will no longer have to think, consult a cookbook or even ask Alexa for recipes, because my tablecloth will be able to tell me how to rustle up a quick curry in a jiffy.  And it’s not just recipes: to quote from one of the articles on the subject… 

“Scientists also imagine Capacitivo serving as a memory tool. It could remind you to take your earbuds before you head out the door, or remind you to clean up if you leave an empty food bowl.”

I can just see the fun that parents will have with this.  Instead of cajoling their offspring who are turning up their noses at sprouts with ‘I can think of starving children in Africa who would be grateful for that,” the kids will now be lectured by the tablecloth. The Africa gambit doesn’t work and nor will the tablecloth.

Another article suggests that “the tablecloth would be able to identify if you have placed an avocado of cheese on a table. It could then pass that information to a connected app, which would analyse its database to show recipes that use those ingredients.”  

Surely, half the fun of cooking is to look at food-porn – those lavishly illustrated cookbooks by the celeb chefs and master bakers who get free trips to foreign countries provided by the TV companies and in exchange for the viewers help the Michelin stars create their next Christmas bestseller?  

More to the point, what happens when you leave the wrong thing on the tablecloth?  I don’t know about you, but if Capacitivo mistakes the car keys for an avocado and you mix in the cat-food that it thought was tinned toms then you’re in for an interesting culinary experience.  Machines and AI are great, but we have to retain some capacity to think for ourselves.  Besides, how many millennials do you know who actually have a tablecloth…?

Scott Bentley, Be-IT

Posted in News, Opinion

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