The Newnan Times-Herald


Unnatural upgrades

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jan. 12, 2019 - 5:22 PM

Unnatural upgrades

The Newnan Times-Herald

I’ll never forget that moment. 

Our house didn’t have stairs so I made some by stacking three piles of books in the middle of the living room. In less than an hour I figured out how to operate my new toy. I called Mom and Pop in for a demonstration. 

They walked in and sat on the couch. I took a deep breath, set the gadget on top of the tallest pile of books and gave it a nudge. Magic happened.

“Look at that, y’all,” I hollered. “I can work a Slinky.”

My dad, who had an engineering degree from Auburn, was left speechless. Mother turned a light shade of green and staggered out of the room. When she passed Pop she whispered, “Don’t let him near the TV or the toaster until we get him tested.”

I got better. I’m now comfortable handling the gadgets I need to get by and get paid. I tolerate technology. But some people are captivated by it. 

The latest crop of cutting edge techno offerings was just on display at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Some of them left me wondering how much longer the human race can survive on its own.

If you have a smartphone, smart car or smart home, you may be interested in the Smart Belt.

The Smart Belt doesn’t just hold up your pants, it tracks your fitness level. How, you ask? By measuring the circumference of your waist. 

The Smart Belt senses how much your stomach is expanding and sends a notification to your phone if your waistline is at risk. I’d be more impressed if the Smart Belt noticed you were porking up and locked the refrigerator.

The belt also has “acceleration sensors” inside the buckle. The sensors measure how long you’ve been sitting down and doing nothing and send you a text message that says, “Get off your behind and get moving.”

At 200 bucks per belt the only thing the Smart Belt is sure to lighten is your wallet. 

Smart belts are dumb, but the award for the most useless gizmo of 2019 goes to the makers of the Mookie cat bowl.

The Mookie cat bowl is a one-piece unit consisting of a plastic bowl with a lid on top that’s connected to a facial recognition camera that sits above the bowl. You fill up the bowl, the lid comes down. 

The camera is set to recognize your cat's face and won’t raise the lid on the bowl until your kitty stares at the camera and says “cheese.” If the camera doesn’t recognize the kitty, the lid stays shut. 

The bowl has a wifi connection that sends your cell phone a “ping” to let you know Fluffy is dining. It will even send you a picture of the moggie munching merrily away. 

Can you say “Stupid?” 

The makers of the Mookie cat bowl clearly have never owned a cat. I have. I’ve seen them chew through plastic containers and canvas sacks to get a snack. If you put out food and a cat gets hungry it will wiggle, contort and perform more acrobatics than Tom Cruise does in a “Mission Impossible” movie to get at it. 

The Mookie cat bowl costs 150 bucks. So does a brief psychiatric examination. 

If you feel the need for either a Smart Belt or a facial recognition cat bowl, call a shrink. 

Better yet, keep things simple and get a dog. 

Alex McRae is the author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: .