Is a Smart Walker a Smart Idea or Technology Overkill?

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SmartWalkerI have to preface this article by admitting that I am not the biggest fan of technology.  As much as it can serve to connect people from around the world and improve our lives, it can also cause us to become more isolated and overly reliant on devices to solve problems. Lately, it seems like almost everything is being turned into a “smarter” version, which begs the question: Isn’t there a certain point where simple is better?

Take for example a new “smart walker” from Siemens. While this product is still in the research and development phase, the ultimate goal is to create a walker that can anticipate obstacles and help those with both physical and cognitive disabilities navigate unfamiliar territory. Sounds like a great idea and I was definitely curious to see how it worked, but after watching the walker in action, I am a little perplexed.

Click here to watch for yourself

Cameras mounted on the walker detect obstacles and redirect the user if needed, but the display is placed directly on top of the walker, which means that users have to look down at the screen as they walk. Is it just me, or does that seem counterproductive? I would think that the easiest way to avoid obstacles would be to look up as you walk and be aware of your surroundings. While I think the research seems useful and may yield some great results, at this stage in development the added technology seems like a bit of overkill. What do you think?

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