CES: What the gadgets on display say about you

In creating the products of the future, manufacturers presumably have the people of the future in mind. What kind of people do the gadgets on display at CES suggest they will turn out to be?

LAS VEGAS--Psychiatry and fortune-telling should merge even quicker than Google and Twitter. Or Yahoo and anyone.

With this obvious societal need in mind, I have navigated the halls of the Consumer Electronics Show here in order to obtain a picture of who you are about to become, based on your current psychology.

I am trying to give the benefit of dubiousness to the companies displaying their wares here. I am assuming that they don't just create these TVs, in-car audio systems, flowery iPad cases, and mind-altering flying toys without considering the people who will be enjoying them.

So here is who you are and what will become of you.

You are scared. And you will be more scared as time goes on.

Having successfully created a world in which you have to be connected all the time for fear that you will miss something, electronics companies are now feeding your need to look over your home and most other parts of your life at all times, for fear of, well, bad stuff.

With cameras and software, they want you to feel you can stare into your bedroom and see whether masked men are trying to make off with your pink elephant pajama case.

The next kid thing is you. CC Jen_Rab/Flickr

You're becoming so scared that electronics companies are trying to find ways in which you can take all your music, movies, TV shows, pictures, and love letters wherever you go, just in case those intruders burn your house down after they've burglarized it.

Then there are the companies that want to create cases, bags, and various other coverings for the gadgets you covet and love. This must mean you are so frightened of dropping them, smashing them, scratching them, nicking them, gouging them, and spilling green tea on them that you will go to any lengths to protect their little bodies.

In fact, it seems that there are almost as many companies trying to protect your gadgets as those who are making the gadgets in the first place. Gadgets have become your children. You don't own them. You look after them.

Here is the second thing you are and will become even more: more desperate to be on TV.

If you can't use all these fine cameras to shoot wonderful, spontaneous commercial movies, the manufacturers of 3D TVs have the answer. They say they are making the TV experience more wonderful for you. But really what they're doing is reacting to the spirit of the age, one that tells you: "If you aren't on TV, you're nobody."

Of course, 3D brings the TV show, the movie, or the football game closer to you. But more importantly, it brings you closer to the show, the movie, or Brett Favre's huddling. It makes you feel, once you have donned those cute little paper spectacles, that you are now part of the spectacle.

You're not just sitting on the couch. You're not even in the live audience when they recorded it. You're on the set. You've made it. You're not just hob-nobbing. You've already moved to LA. You're one small step from getting an agent.

The third thing that gadgets manufacturers believe you are and want to help you become even more of is, well, a child. Yes, even more.

Walking through the parking lot in front of the Convention Center, I saw people running around after a flying plastic wheel while many bystanders smiled, hooted, and generally thought this was the most entertaining thing they'd seen for a long time.

None of them looked under 30. I am sure that this flying plastic wheel was a wonderful game to be played by people of all ages. But it did seem to indicate that the minds of those who have minds are full of child-envy, wishing they could return to that childhood, wishing they didn't have to put with the mundanities of responsibility and capitalism.

Electronics companies are being very clever in making child-like behavior more socially acceptable for adults.

Wii, Kinect, and flying plastic wheels all manage to beautifully blur the boundary between sane and silly. They work on your inner child, the one that you've suppressed ever since the first time your Dad barked at you to grow up. CES is hosting more and more companies that want to mine (and soothe) that tension in your mind.

You will increasingly feel good about feeling nine again.

So, look, your 48 minutes are up. Please feel free to thank the world's gadget manufacturers for holding your hand as you walk towards the new you. I hope you will be happy. The business depends on it.

 

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