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Why children are driving touch screen sales

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One of Lenovo’s biggest growth segments is in the eight to 12-year-old segment and this has to do with children’s demand for touch devices. GRAHAM BRAUM, General Manager of Lenovo Africa explores why children are so drawn to these devices.

Renowned educator, Maria Montessori once said, “The hands are the instruments of a man’s intelligence.” Given that she lived around the turn of the 20th Century, it’s safe to assume she wasn’t referring to using one’s hands as the instruments with which to operate touch screens. However, as touch technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous in our lives, and even more so in the lives of our children, it is worth exploring why children are so drawn to it and the impact it has on their intelligence – both academic and social – as well as their safety.

At Lenovo, one of our biggest growth has been among the eight to 12-year-old segment and I believe this is driven by children’s demand for touch screens. Michael Cohen of UK research consultancy, the Michael Cohen Group says the rise of the touch screen has been incredible – the most rapid introduction of a technology he has witnessed. His research found that in the UK more than two thirds of children live in homes with smartphones, and just over half have access to tablets. They also increasingly have their own device. Of course, African figures are likely to differ slightly, but given the significant mobile penetration and the constant development of affordable technology across the continent, it makes sense that we will follow this trend.

The question is why children are so drawn to this technology. Besides that as digital natives they incorporate digital technologies into their lives with ease, the answer is that touch screens in particular are intuitive. Using a mouse or a remote control is a symbolic action and young children might need to be shown the connection between what they are doing with their hands and what is happening on the screen. A touch screen makes this connection obvious – a gesture results in logical action; swipe to the right and whatever is on the screen moves in the same direction.

The ease with which children use touch screens means they enjoy a variety of online activities, from watching videos and playing games, to searching for information, doing their homework and socialising. A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science quotes research which found that apart from the obvious enjoyment children experience will partaking in these activities, this engagement also helps to develop digital literacy, as well as support future academic achievement and social interaction.

Of course, there is some trepidation among parents related to their children’s lack of skills to assess the risk associated with interacting online, and what they may be exposed to. There is also the fear that children may become addicted to the virtual worlds they interact with, impacting on how they function as part of a family, with their peers or in broader society.

However, authors of “Tech-Savvy Parenting”, Nikki Bush and Arthur Goldstuck believe that these risks can be curbed by active parenting, which starts by learning about the technology your children are using and how to keep them safe. It also involves thinking about how to assimilate this technology into family life while keeping the family at the centre. She suggests that technology shouldn’t be an alternative to family time, but is instead a useful tool to up skill our children to be resourceful and resilient in the future.

There is no denying that children’s lives are filled with media and technology at younger and younger ages and the uptake is rapidly increasing. The growth of the eight- to 12-year-old segment in our business is evident of that. With this in mind, it makes sense to think about what technology like touch screens can offer them and how to mediate screen time not to cut it down as much as leverage its benefits.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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