I recently learned about some techo-magic that seems irresistible. Radar micro-motion sensors now enable controls of electronics with the snap, tap, or rub of a finger. In a car, instead of reaching for the volume knob, you can slide your thumb over the top of your first finger and turn up the radio. The science of sound extends what we can do and what we can see – from radar to echocardiography, from seeing the heart to gesture recognition.
This ability has many advantages but it is one more way that technology separates our bodies from the physical world. Humans have been around for 200,000 years and it is relatively recent that we have reached through space to control our world. From flint spears to missiles, our trajectory evolves with benefits and costs, which may include losing the acuity of our senses and changing the way we interact with our world for better or worse.
Industry may presume that we prefer a cabin full of sterile flat screens and consoles rather than the knobs, buttons and levers of years past. At first glance, this pact with devilish
convenience seems like a good idea. Yet dream cruises that display old cars highlight the
wonderful multi-sensory experience that our parent’s parents enjoyed. This includes manual
connections and the enjoy of interacting with controls of different shapes, the wooden
paneling, the leather and fabrics. The tactile experience of interacting with our vehicles and electronics deserves restoration. This will keep us connected, not only with these tools, but with what keeps us human.