The world around us is constantly changing, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the rise and fall of the numerous technology companies that come forward claiming to have created the next ‘it’ solution. From social media platforms through to search engines, robotics and AI, a new company emerges on almost a daily basis claiming to do something new, or something old but in a faster, better way. However, as the technological space becomes more crowded, the consumer becomes more savvy, demanding greater accountability, greater purpose and a stronger moral compass. Increasingly, consumers are no longer interested in having the latest new gadget, instead, they want to support and identify with companies that have the target user as their core focus, not just profit and global popularity.
To better understand our current disillusionment with the wider world of technology, we only need to look at the recent disappointments that customers have experienced. We hear new reports of privacy infringements on a near daily basis, stories of data being leaked, accounts being hacked and valuable information lost, all the while the companies themselves become bigger and their founders wealthier. Consumers inevitably criticise these companies and yet, they are so massive and so ingrained in our daily lives that there is no choice but to carry on using them – although with less idealism than before, and significantly more cynicism. In tandem with the changing attitudes, a new generation of consumer is coming to the fore, further altering the way that technology is created. As millennials and generation Z become the world’s largest age brackets and biggest consumers, it is clear that their priorities are different – because they are raised in a world that is entirely digital, they are more attuned to ulterior motives. They demand more accountability from every company or provider they use, even changing the way that social media has always attracted users – as recently as this year, Instagram is experimenting with its ‘like’ function, while Facebook moves away from public sharing and towards private discussion. For these people, the products they purchase become part of their identity, and companies are personalities, friends they choose to be acquainted with. The combination of these factors is what has led to the popularity of ‘tech for good’ and the emergence of warm technology – a field companies like us are currently claiming.
When trying to better understand these companies, it is important to understand the distinctions between them. ‘Tech for good’ is a term typically used when referring to a technological service or solution that is being used to do a good thing. ‘Warm technology’ on the other hand, is a term that we use to describe our own technological solutions – currently the telepresence robot AV1 and the communication device, KOMP – products that have been created with the entire purpose of being good.
Tech for good is a term typically used to describe technology that is used towards an end of social good. Warm technology on the other hand, is term that we coined to describe technology that has been created with the entire purpose of creating a sense of warmth and connectedness, tech that lowers the threshold for human contact, and brings happiness to those who feel lonely.
We created No Isolation with the sole purpose of eradicating the growing epidemic that is currently facing our society – loneliness. We want to create technological solutions with, and for, those affected by loneliness. We created the telepresence robot AV1 for children and young adults with long term illness, making it possible for them to go to school virtually, while they themselves undergo treatment at home or at the hospital. With KOMP, we’ve tried to cherry pick the most magical parts of social media and introduce them to our grandparents. Much like how Instagram lets us see what our siblings are up to while travelling across the world, with KOMP, for the last year of his life, my grandfather was able to see what I was doing as I went about my day. I could send him a snap of me out at lunch with my colleagues, or video call him from my home in London – a home he was never able to travel to himself. I was able to text him to say that I love him and am thinking of him. Using KOMP, he was able to be a part of everything I’d done in the space between our monthly visits, and that was amazing for both me and him. By using KOMP, my grandfather and I were able to cross geographical and generational boundaries, putting the communication that was so important to us at the forefront. I envision that this is the way the technological world will develop – it will embrace the digital, without forgetting the generation that was analogue. It will put humanity at its core, making the technology meaningful, warm and responsible.
I hope that as consumers become more demanding of the companies they use, more warm technologies will be created for those who truly need them. With consumer support we can do incredible things, change the world and leave it as a better place for our children and the generations that follow them. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t have mobile phones, so really, is eradicating loneliness, for everyone in the world, as impossible as it may have seemed at first?
No Isolation was a 2019 Impact Awards winner.