Tech for Tech-Sake: Tech Notions or the Cusp of A Better World?

tech for tech sake

I’m going to let you in on a little writing secret of mine. When I write an article, I focus on three “whats”. First of all, is just “what”. What happened that triggered me to write. Is it a review or maybe a newsworthy event? Next up, “so what?”. Ok, so I’ve decided I’m going to write about something, the next thing is why should you, the reader, care about it. Finally comes “now what”. This is where I ask you to take an action. It might be downloading a free app, buying a new gadget or making a recommendation around how you behave online – like using a password manager or something similar.

I’ve found that this helps me focus on the content that will best benefit you. At the end of the day, the whole idea about is to bring you tech insights that empower you to live a better life with tech. But isn’t tech sometimes a little useless and over the top? Here are two tech stories from the past week that may, on the surface appear to be tech for tech-sake, but really there’s some underlying coolness there to be seen too.

Nike’s Auto-lacing Shoes

My favourite movie is Back to the Future – well all three of them to be honest. Seriously, here’s me at a street festival in Germany.

My hover-board at German Carnival Festival

I adore back to the future to the point where I’m now known as Marty! That moment where Marty McFly’s shoes laced themselves up, could have been the moment I fell in love with tech. Eager to cash in on a 1980s movie moment, Nike actually founded a development team which created the HyperAdapt. It actually happened. You could buy (a rather expensive pair of kicks) which, at the touch of a button, could lace themselves up.

Useless? On the surface, yes they are a little. I was watching Unbox Therapy’s first look at the latest pair with my better half recently and she said this was the line. Auto-lacing shoes are more than a little silly. The trigger point for her was the wireless charging platform. Lewis had to call out that when the battery dies, the shoes stay tied and reserve enough power for you to take them off. I accept, this are some silly problems to have with your shoes. Then I got thinking about the real world applications of this.

Formula 1 returns soon, and I’d just witness Williams release their new car for the year. One of their drivers, Robert Kubica, was in a bad crash a few years ago which left one of his arms badly damaged. He’s capable of driving a F1 car but still, it got me thinking that something like tying shoelaces could be a genuine issue for him.

My mental floodgates opened.

So many people’s lives could be made easier by a pair of shoes which can be tightened through an app instead of using traditional knot tying. Now I understand that Nike probably doesn’t have this in mind when selling a pair of basketball shoes for a couple of hundred dollars. However, innovation for one reason often benefits consumers in another. To return to F1, the reason we have hybrid cars on our roads is largely down to development for the racetrack.

Sure, this tech might seem silly on the surface and for many reasons it is, but who knows what brilliant technological advances will come down the line because of this.

Huawei Finishing Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony

The link between Nike and Back to the Future is rather slight. I think that’s what makes people rush to the “cashing in on Hollywood” conclusion. I’d have had a similar feeling about Huawei using a Mate 20 Pro to create music. But then I set aside the “sure that’s ridiculous” mindset and really thought about what had happened here.

So…What Happened?

Symphony No. 8 by Franz Schubert is one of the best-known pieces of classical music, even though it was never completed. Whether this was down to the composers ill-health or distraction with another piece of work, Huawei wanted to put this piece of music to bed. They took my current daily rider, the Mate 20 Pro and used the on-board Huawei Neural Processing Unit to complete Schubert’s work.

That’s how powerful smartphones have become. Huawei specially designed an app which could analyse a piece of classical music for traits of the long-dead composer and then make suggestions and recommendations of how the piece should continue beyond its premature conclusion.

So again, isn’t this a little useless? Like, the piece isn’t what Schubert intended or planned so what’s the point?

Well, watching the clip and seeing how it moved Emmy Award-winning composer Lucas Cantor, it’s impossible to ignore how marrying together technology and culture together is an important part of human progression. Technology has a reputation for being cold and clinical, but here, we have an award-winning composer highlighting the benefits of AI as a partner in collaboration. A partner that never gets tired and never runs out of ideas.

There’s something particularly special about seeing the finished piece transition from Schubert’ original into a machines interpretation, an interpretation curated by a human composer.

Like the example I gave earlier, Huawei’s experiments with artificial intelligence are far from tech for tech-sake. Last year the Chinese manufacturer released StorySign, an app which uses artificial intelligence to translate written word into sign language, making reading easier for deaf children.

The technology behind the completion of Schubert’s No. 8 Symphony could help deaf people enjoy music or complete other artistic works someday. Marrying culture and technology while also improving lives.

I’m sure many will read this and think I’m just being my usual positive self about technology, but it’s too easy to see a lot of what’s going on out there as tech for tech-sake. I will conceed defeat on this one thing though. No body needs a connected hairbrush.


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Founding Editor of Goosed, Marty is a massive fan of tech making life easier. You'll often find him testing something new, brewing beer or finding some new foodie spots in Dublin, Ireland. - Find me on Threads