Technology Enhanced Living

A piece of technology can be used in the ways that was not intended by the developer. It is not always possible to foresee every problem people will try to solve using the technology that is available to them.

When I look at the Swiss Army knife in my hand, I see many tools on it which could be used to get wine out of a bottle. There is one tool that is clearly the best (the corkscrew) but others could be used to cut the cork or maybe push it into the bottle, all with a similar if less perfect outcome of getting the wine. Sometimes you may have some piece of technology and a different purpose, so innovative usage and adaptation of the tool to your specific case is needed.

Today I was told a story which demonstrated to me the inventiveness of people and their creativity in problem solving.. It is a story of a group of drunk young adults that had fun sprinting as fast as they could to see who could go the fastest. However, this was measured not using a stopwatch, or their smart phones.

On the coast road there are some automated digital speed detectors for cars, so they can see if they are going below or above the speed limit. The speed measured is shown on the sign and a happy face comes up if they are within the limit, and if they are exceeding the limit a sad face comes up.

However, the detector also reacts to humans running as these young adults found out. So late at night, you had a group of young adults, trying to set the fastest speed using this independent test.

I wonder did the designer of this road safety gamification tool thought about how others may use this. I wonder if he thought about the fun that people other than drivers would take from this digital speed enforcement system.  There were no instructions given to the public on how this is to be used, no constraints given.

When you provide technology to people it is not always possible to foresee the eventual outcome. Prepare to be surprised.

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