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The advent of autopause - the invasiveness of convenience

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Over the course of this week – whispers turned into full flow leaks that Microsoft is developing a new feature for the next generation Xbox that can detect when your eyes are not on the screen. In doing so – it will automatically pause whatever is transmitting until your full attention has been restored.

This is one of the most hideous and fundamentally disturbing ideas we’ve heard in quite some time. There are several issues in play here. The first and the most glaringly obvious is the bullying into advertising. Well before the digital age, one could tell when an advert came in a popular program by the surge in electricity as everyone stuck the kettle on. People get up, go to the toilet, check their emails – do pretty much anything during an ad break – and pausing any programming until one has been subjected to a bit of corporate messaging seems like a huge leap forward in the invasiveness of the advertising process.

But it goes well beyond new and ingenious ways to force us to watch advertisements. Let’s just pause for a minute and really consider how we actually watch stuff. There can be no doubt that some things are just riveting – absolute edge of your seat stuff that keeps your retinas locked firmly on the screen. But equally – a huge dimension to watching films, TV or serieses is the relaxation factor. The zone out. You come back from a hard day’s work – whack on the TV and semi wacth it while also staring out of the window and thinking about whatever you have to look forward to or to dread.

Are we really so technology reliant that we can no longer press pause? Or rewind if we forgot to pause. The need to invent new technologies purely for the sake of inventing them can very often lead to complicating our lives rather than simplifying them.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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