Since it was first introduced, Pleo the robotic dinosaur has received almost universal acclaim.
But last week, Pleo didn’t exactly charm a New York Times reviewer. David Pogue summed the toy up as a “novelty” that wears off quickly.
Having met Caleb Chung, who invented Pleo with a team of engineers in his Eagle lab, I at first felt the reviewer was being a little too harsh.
But as I thought about it, I do agree with the overall point of his column. I still think Pleo is more than a “novelty.” On a broader scale it does a lot toward developing the whole idea of an artificial life, which as Chung will tell you is one of the reasons for its development.
But as the reviewer points out most technology gets old way too quickly. But in my mind that is what makes technology such an attractive industry.
We may grow tired of the next great tech gadget quickly, but we don’t give up on the technology. Instead we look for the next big thing and we’re willing to spend the dollars to find it.
Just think about what we have in our own lives. How many of us upgrade our cell phones ever two years? I do. But to be honest, I don’t know why. The cell phone I had two years ago, which is now collecting dust in my closet, still does everything I need, but the lure of the new phone with the better camera and online access was too much to ignore.
Well guess what? I think I’ve used the camera a couple times at most. And after the free trial of online access ended, I haven’t once used my phone to surf the Web.
At home my kids have boxes of cast-off technology that isn’t getting any use. There are dozens of Play Station games that haven’t been touched since buying the new Wii. And I hate to even think about the hundreds of dollars I spent on those games that will probably end up in a garage sale this summer for a buck or two.
And don’t get me started on computers and software. I’m already thinking of buying a new computer. I’m not sure why, but somehow I’ll probably convince myself I can’t live without the latest technology.
Surrounding my computer, I have dozens of versions of software programs. I keep buying the updates to certain programs even though I haven’t even used all the features of the first program.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to get off the technology treadmill. I keep buying even when I know I should stop. But I also know I’m not alone. People pour millions if not billions of dollars a year into buying new technology.
And I doubt that Chung is too upset about the bad review. If anything he’s probably hard at work developing the next generation Pleo that everyone will just have to have.