At the turn of the century, the Y2K bug was a digital concept that shone a spotlight on our utter dependence on technology. The bug, if it were true, was said to threaten our very way of living. Relying on their supposed “date of manufacture”, it was believed at the time that computers and electrical appliances would become confused about their role when the calendar shifted to 1st January 2000 as they could not comprehend their resetting time stamp in their little microchip brains. Planes were to fall from the sky, they said, microwaves were to explode and nuclear power plants to meltdown.
Of course, none of it was true, but a mere 15 years on from scare of Y2K, it seems we have become ever more reliant of our smart gadgets. Our everyday lives revolve around our computers, smartphones and smart homes.
For some people, opening the doors to technology and innovation is a wonderful thing. Robots doing the jobs you hate, the convenience of voice-controlled appliances catering to your every wish and having control of everything at the touch of a smartphone app. When done right, it is indeed an exciting way to live. However, there are those who view the impending growth of the Internet of Things, including the rise of home automation and smart homes, as a one-way track towards a dystopian future where man no longer controls the world around him.
And so is the premise for Hugo Cierzniak’s cute but cautionary animated short film ‘Dip N’ Dance’.
The video begins with the bona fide quote from the movie, Fightclub: “Things you own, end up owning you” and tells the story of a self-obsessed middle aged man whose home is completely automated.
He loves his instantaneous home automation devices that cater to his every whim from lighting up a room to showering and shaving. The egotistical character instructs his smart home to close doors, turn on lights and display portraits with a simple whistle, a click or a snap of his fingers.
Sounds like heaven? He thinks so, until things start to go wrong.
Whilst showering in his smart shower, his smart radio malfunctions. In his attempt to fix it, the smart appliance gives him a powerful electric shock that transfers the power of ‘automation’ to his body. Essentially, the roles of ownership become reversed and now the smart radio (and the music it plays) has total control over his movements. It is he who has become the automated appliance, bending to the whim and wishes of his smart radio. Things you own, end up owning you. The resulting destruction of his smart house is both amusing and satirical, showing the perils of our reliance on technology.
On a serious note, the smart home industry has so much potential in the next few years. Every time we turn around there is a new gadget to make our lives faster, simpler, and better – be it a smart watch, a smart desk or an intelligent thermostat. Most of us appreciate the benefits that these devices, however there is always the question, how much can we safely rely on technology before we are completely dependent?