Atttitudes to technology vary widely around the world. One stereotypical view of East Asians is that they’re all really heavily into technological innovation, with the Japanese perhaps ahead of the field.
But that flair for innovation is often combined with a desire to make technology somehow more human. To illustrate that particular point you only have to think of the various household robots that get showcased from time to time, though we’ve yet to see one that’s made it into our local hypermarkets.
Then there’s the toys such as Tamagochi and Pokémon. They’ve come a long way from the halcyon days of the mid-to-late ’70s, when good old Pong (otherwise known as video tennis) ruled the roost despite displaying no natural characteristics whatsoever.
(It’s not just the Japanese, either – though Japan’s the origin of many of these ideas, they’re often taken up readily across the region. One of their cartoon characters, Doraemon, a robot that looks like a cat (why?) is hugely popular in Thailand, for instance.)
Sometimes, though, this desire to give technology “fluffy” edges goes a step further than you might expect.
On a recent visit to Penang we were sitting in a bar one afternoon idly reading the local paper, when this headline caught Dave’s eye and caused him to burst out laughing:
Yes, apparently you can now buy a range of laptops which “not only engage the eye with attractive motifs and colours, they also come with infused scents, the lifespan of which depends on the actual usage.”
They’re made by Taiwanese company ASUS, and apparently they’re “expressions of the user’s individual taste”…
(While writing this blog entry we were still wondering if this wasn’t some kind of spoof for publicity purposes, but apparently not.)