Smart phones, silly pitches

It is so reassuring to read reports about how people are using new technology in novel and smart ways, for the betterment of others. Such as the apps and programs developed for iPads and iPhones to help children and adults with autism communicate what they’re thinking, which is something of a miracle, since the condition robs them of the ability to verbalize their thoughts.

“Steve Jobs did not realize he was giving a voice to the voiceless,” Phoebe Tucker, a speech language pathologist in Bridgeport, Conn., told CNN. Tucker has created a center for autism called the Montano Assistive Technology Center, a division of United Cerebral Palsy, to integrate various forms of technology for therapy.

And that’s the beauty of “smart phones” and other gadgets: Their use for good are only limited by our imaginations. (Unfortunately, their use for nefarious purposes is also only limited by the imaginations of bad guys, and overzealous good guys who think privacy invasions are necessary to catch bad guys. Increasingly, without a warrant, law-enforcement agencies use mobile phones to track suspected criminals, with a lot of non-criminals caught up in the middle, according to a study by the ACLU, MSN reported.)

No doubt people in all sorts of fields — from baristas to brain surgeons — are using smart phones, tablets and gadgets in ingenious and revolutionary ways, like the autism apps. Given these remarkable technological leaps forward, these invigorating sparks of imagination and promise, why, for the love of Siri, does Apple continue to market the iPhone as if the “i” stood for “insipid”? Making the operators of the phone look dumb doesn’t make the phone look smart.

One such television ad features a young actress called Zooey Deschanel, who is shown standing in her bathroom; the sound of rain can be heard. She asks her phone, “Siri, is it raining?” She then goes to the window to see that it is raining, as Siri confirms there is a chance of rain today. (Good thing they got that figured out. It might have been rain, or she might have left the shower on.)

Where’s everybody’s mom to say: If you took your face out of that phone once in a while, you would see all on your own that it is raining.

People are using such phones to help people with autism communicate and Apple marketers choose to show an actress asking Siri to get someone to deliver soup to her.

Even if you won’t save the world with your smart phone, it’s nice to think the appeal of having one might go beyond asking Siri if it’s raining.

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