Just Because Technology Makes Something Possible Doesn’t Make It a Good Idea

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IMG_1801Recently I was passing through Philadelphia airport and I couldn’t help but notice thousands of iPads located one at every seat in the restaurants and waiting areas. It seemed like a distraction so I investigated.

After a little detective work, I learned the technology delivered by OTG is meant to automate passengers’ needs while they wait. But to me, it seems like technology looking for a problem to solve.

The OTG service includes the ability to scan your boarding pass to track your flight; menus of the restaurants in the terminal; games you can play while waiting; and personalized recommendations "based on your profile".

“Headphones? Gifts? Duty-Free? Place an order through one of our iPads, and we’ll deliver your purchase in a matter of minutes.”

It seems to me that this service primarily another channel for advertising.

As I see it, the biggest problem with this technology platform is that anybody who is technology savvy enough to use it is likely to already have personal technology to do the same things.

And for those who aren't used to technology like this, the system seems too convoluted to master in a few minutes while waiting for a plane. When I was in the terminal, I saw zero people using it.

In my case, my iPhone has airline apps that show me flight status, or I can simply look at the display videos. I’ve got my own entertainment in the form of my music on my iPhone with my personal headset and my books on the Kindle app.

Maybe if I were hungry, I might try to find food I would enjoy but I wouldn’t be happy sitting next to the annoying screen while I eat.

As Seth Godin says in a blog post from last week titled Data is expensive, “more data isn’t always better. In fact, in many cases, it’s a costly distraction or even a chance to get the important stuff wrong.”


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