Thanks to the rapid progress made in the field of science, interesting consumer durable goods are making it to the market, thereby helping a lay person like me to make humour columns out of.
Yesterday, I received a press release from a popular white goods company announcing that it has launched airconditioners which “can be controlled from anywhere in the world through an app on smartphone”.
I want to ask the researchers of the company whether it was some whacky April Fool prank they played, exactly the kind that gets played after four or five beers have been consumed, that got taken seriously and made it to the design table you know, not unlike the leave-letters and laundry list that sometimes make it as news in publications.
I mean what kind of person would want to switch on the AC, go out and start controlling it from outside? Okay, perhaps they had Jayalalithaa specifically in mind when they thought up this feature.
But I can imagine some of the conversations when this AC is actually purchased and put to use:
Wife: (Over phone) Honey, it is getting a bit sultry out here and the chill is uneven, can you switch on the ‘swing’ mode?
Husband: Office wifi is down. Can’t log into the app.
Wife: In think I’ll go over to Ranjani’s place. Her husband, bless him, works in a company where the wifi there is never down.
Boss: Rajesh, what are you doing?
Rajesh: I am getting the presentation ready for the important client meeting.
Boss: Okay, that can wait. Now (handing over his mobile) set the timer on the AC in my son’s bedroom. That thing doesn’t seem to be working.
Rajesh: But sir, the client presentation is already due…
Boss: Remember your appraisals are also due…the papers are with me.
Rajesh: The client anyway is delaying the payments, sir. No harm in delaying him, sir.
Woman (lodging a complaint at the police station): Officer, I suspect somebody has hacked into my mobile and is now stalking my AC.
The new app feature is part of the wifi-enabled ACs that the company has launched with fanfare.
Wifi-enabled ACs, everyone will have to agree, is an important development if we ever manage to wrap our heads around what they are supposed to do.
Does it help transmit cool, air-conditioned air over broadband network? Or perhaps, you can upload cool air on Google drive and use it as and when you need it?
I frankly don’t know. But what I think I know is these AC manufacturers are trying way too harder for their own good. Wifi-enabled or app-controlled AC is not what people are looking for. But what people could certainly do with is an AC that steadfastly refuses to start when the monthly household electricity budget is about to be breached.
In general, what I would like to tell all appliance manufacturers is: Don’t put any new features in your machines. We still haven’t done figuring out the features that you have already placed in our existing appliances.
For instance, most TVs these days come with the PIP facility, which allows for simultaneously catching two (or even more) channels in a convenient grid on a single screen. Well, that is its explicit purpose. But what happens really is you end up messing two (or even more) channels on a single screen. The thing is technology may have evolved to the level of beaming two channels simultaneously. But human beings are still stuck in the unevolved state of being able to catch only one at any given time.
Also — this is important — finding one channel worthy of watching is daunting even in the best of times. Where are we to go for two such channels?
But by god, these days it doesn’t stop with technology alone. Things are getting fancifully complicated with almost everything. Take your bathroom tap, for instance. For all your hot, cold water needs, on the tap or on the overhead shower or the hand shower, you are presented with a grand total of one knob. Yes, you read that right: just a single lever, pushing or pulling or turning which you are supposed to go through your bathing routine. The level of finesse and skill needed to operate this knob is same as the one would expect from a nuclear submarine captain. No wonder, people are skipping their bath and body spray sales are booming.
Having said this, I know this is a losing cause for all of us. Today they have put wifi on your ACs. Tomorrow, they will equip your vacuum cleaner with —- I don’t know —- electric shaver.
And one of these days, I may well be to keying in Crank’s Corner on the convenient keyboard that they will doubtless come up with on the microwave oven.
So, how do you like your weekend reading to be? Medium or rare?