Welcoming the strangers into my home, via smart tech and apps, that know and tell everything
In the new world of smart home tech, my son stares into the sky, seemingly talking to himself, but he is not spacing out, he is asking questions aloud, and getting answers, to his homework problems, via our new TicHome Mini voice command device,
This is our life now. And it’s not just through smart home apps Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant but on his iPhone 6 and iPad mini that he is constantly consulting the universe, a.k.a. universal intelligence via the Internet, the answers to life‘s many questions.
One of his favorite discoveries is Ask Bongo, an Australian app featuring a monkey persona that promises to know everything about everyone and is willing to share his knowledge. This app, which is similar to other assistants and knowledge-based apps, was the brainchild of entrepreneur Caroline Thompson, who envisioned the app following a conversation with one of her associates when they were trying to verify a hard-to-believe assertion about a historical figure – Genghis Khan. Upon musing with her peers that it would be nice if there were as a resource which allowed a user to simply text a question to a history professor or some omniscient monkey and get answers, the idea for Ask Bongo was born.
While the app originated in Australia, it’s friendly monkey is making its way abroad and bringing a quirky new voice to the realm of personified dictionaries. If you check out Ask Bongo’s Facebook page, you’ll see some prank videos that would not get a family rating in the US, but you can see the sassy appeal that the brand has to millennials, which we all know are the primary audience for new technology for brands that want to compete in this crowded space.
The main functionality of all of these smart apps is to provide instant information, which satisfies the millennial appetite for immediate gratification. While most of us have lost our patience for traditional dictionaries or encyclopedias, the latest generation of early adopters has an even shorter attention span when it comes to getting answers to their questions.
Besides the very common questions shouted out at our home, such as, “What time is it?” or, “What is the weather?” my son uses smart technology for mathematical problems, history and social studies questions, science facts, and even geographical references.
In the old days we used to consider it cheating if someone used a calculator, but who would’ve contemplated the ease with which a student could garner information in the modern age? Instead of tactile resources at their fingertips, now they have only to ask a question into thin air and are delivered a reliable response within seconds.
Rather than worry this new technology will make my son lazy, I encourage it. For one, if you can’t beat it join it, and since the tech revolution has already over taken our society, there’s no sense in fighting it. I don’t know a soul who can go a day without a smart phone in my social circles. This is the wave of the future, so my philosophy is to embrace it, rather than be left behind.
So, my tactic is to engage my son in this new smart world, and I task him to figure it all out. I require him to help me set up smart devices, download apps, and to explore what they can do. This piques his curiosity in new ways, so that he is excited about technology and eager to incorporate it into his daily life. In my opinion, it is better to be his partner in this new way of learning a new way of life, then to make it a source of conflict in our family.
While we do limit screen time and prohibit electronics at the table, I do not make technology our enemy. I instead choose to welcome the monkey to our table, such as the Ask Bongo app, so that not only am I up-to-date on the technology of the future, but I’m the coolest and most tech-savvy mom on the block.