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Nike's New Invention Is A Step Too Far

Can all technology companies just dial it down for a while, so we can gather ourselves? No new models, no new operating systems, no new features. I just need a break from all of this constant improvement. I'm exhausted with it all.
RuslanDashinsky via Getty Images

Running shoes are so bloody boring aren't they? I mean, apart from housing your feet for a Sunday morning jog, there's really nothing else they do! Telephones have gone from being wired to the building where you live, to - now - sitting on your wrist. Meanwhile running shoes have literally stood still. So lazy, so unambitious, so complacent. But fear not! Global superbrand Nike have stepped in and pimped up your pumps.

Have you, like me, always wanted your running shoes to be more complicated, expensive and harder to dispose of? Well, our prayers have been answered. Coming to an understaffed Sports Direct near you is what we've all been waiting for: trainers with self-tying shoelaces. And about bloody time! What a faff it was, having to tie my shoelaces myself. Why is that my job? I'm a busy guy, with Tweets to send and stuff. It's unforgivable if you think about it. Up to five seconds of your life - per shoe - wasted by vainly looping, twirling, twisting and pulling. Think about it - every time you don a pair of shoes, that's ten seconds of your life you'll never get back. Time that could have been far better spent staring at Facebook or watching puppy videos on YouTube.

So here's how Nike have done it: small motors, powered by lithium ion batteries, tighten and loosen man-made tendons built into the shoe. This is all done via the pressing of a plus or minus button, depending on the fit you require. The batteries are topped up by a remote charging unit placed near the shoes. Yay! Another thing to charge up! Can't get enough of that! I don't mind telling you, I love the jeopardy of a device that's about to run out of energy - it literally makes me horny.

So there you have it. A new low for the convenience culture. Having given us miracles like cellular phones, GPS and HD video, corporations are now resorting to solving problems we don't have. iPhones, for example, stopped significantly improving about five years ago. So Apple and their rivals are trying to dream up functionality that we haven't asked for, thought of, or need. And the problem is that every time we upgrade, we are feeding the monster.

Our total devotion - if not addiction - to technology means that we the consumers are part of the problem. Fed on a diet of devices that constantly improve, evolve and get upgraded, we now find it hard to value anything that doesn't light up, vibrate or have its own ringtone. My children really only get excited about toys that require batteries. If it comes with a plug, it's a must-have. If you have to inflate it yourself, wind it up or pull it backwards, they're not interested. It's not their fault, obviously. It's a world we've built for them.

Now, I don't want to seem preachy about this (too late?!). And I don't want to be hypocritical. After all, my home is awash with technology. Laptops, tablets, smartphones etc etc. But what I'm calling for is this: a brief moratorium - perhaps for five or ten years - on things getting better. Can all technology companies just dial it down for a while, so we can gather ourselves. No new models, no new operating systems, no new features. I just need a break from all of this constant improvement. I'm exhausted with it all. When I was a kid nothing ever improved. Technological development was amazingly static.

For example in 1980, we bought a telly. I think it was a Hitachi. A lot of wood was involved, not sure why. My dad paid for it slowly. And that was our telly. We weren't looking over our shoulder at the latest Sony or Panasonic. That was the telly we had and owned and used. It was a member of the family and essentially it was a telly for life. Well, until, after a decade of good service, it blew up during a particularly compelling episode of Dangermouse.

Now obviously there is going to be no moratorium. Too much is at stake for too many powerful businesses. But we can starve this monster at source. We can buy an actual book, not a e-reader. We can kick an actual ball around with the kids, not some LED thing that lights up for no reason whatsoever. We can go for a walk, rather that immerse ourselves in a Virtual Reality world generated by strange, massive glasses that always seem to fall off your face. You'll find a stroll to your nearest big Sainsbury's is just as much fun. Or God forbid, a park. I think if we are a little more analogue in our thinking and in our spending habits, we could make the world a better place. The environment would benefit, as would our wallet and probably our spiritual health too. No frills, no fuss, batteries not included. Just a thought. Anyway, must go. That PS4 isn't going to play itself.