As we wait for COVID Season 4 to drop here in the United States, rumor has it, it’s doing blockbuster numbers in Europe.
We get asked a lot at our humble magazine and what we think are the most innovative products or technologies of our time.
Quite frankly, that’s subjective. If you’re a parent, it could be something as simple as a video baby monitor. If you’re an urban hipster, the evolution of e-bikes and scooters could be near the top of your list. If you’re a better-than-average 20 something then the many filters and body-altering options on an app like Facetune is game changing as you “build your following.”
This may fall flat on many of you, but I liked lockdown. Not the thousands of people dying part, but the slowing things down part. Until Michigan went, well … all Michigan, for a brief moment in our history, people from around the world rallied together to make sure we fought a hidden killer. We were taking walks with their families, checking in on old friends, and when folks would say “how are you?” They meant it.
Board meetings and Power Points got replaced with board games and sidewalk chalk art. Families across the globe, while scared, also got a reset, got to know each other and got to be close again, without travel sports, daily commutes or anything else to get in the way.
While we tried plenty of time-killing distractions, Uno became our go-to game. It’s easy to learn, you don’t have to think that much, anyone has a chance at winning amongst my kids, it kills time and most importantly, it’s easy to do while drinking wine.
Hours passed playing Uno as we tried to avoid the onslaught of devastating news and also gave our dog time to recover between epic walks.
Then, well, you know the rest: riots, weirdos running around Wal-Mart with their masks off, Florida, vaccines and general good ol’ USA fuckery.
COVID became politicized, neighbors took sides and the walks got replaced with angry tweets, unfriending and general discontent for anyone with an opinion that didn’t coincide with their own.
My oldest went back to college to try and continue with as normal of an education as she could, while the other two sat at home and tried to learn on a computer. Technology was becoming how we learned, how we killed time at night and what we looked at as we fell asleep.
The moment of peace had passed, and while things were nowhere near “normal,” they were speeding up in a different direction, into the unknown.
As the world turned in on itself, a single IM changed my definition of “amazing tech.” From 500 miles away, I got an invite from my daughter to play UNO on my phone.
A quick free download from the app store and once again we were able to play UNO together. And while I couldn’t see her, it made me feel more connected than the Life360 app I use to make sure she’s in class and not “darty,” (day party for you old folk).
My son, my wife and my parents in Hawaii all downloaded the UNO app and at different times during the day, a phone would light up and the game would continue. Simple and easy. It was a message that we were all there for each other and — at least for a few moments —, things were okay.
Admittedly, the UNO has slowed down as life speeds up again, but the notices still show up on a rainy day or a weekend morning. When that notice pops up, it’s not only game on, it’s a reminder of the time the world took a pause and we all went for a walk. Together.
The greatest technology of my time is the tech that brought my family together, made us smile, relived the stress of well, everything and kept us going through the cattywampus times that are our new reality — connected games that you can simply click on, share and play with someone special thousands of miles away or next to you on the couch.
Connected games that you can simply click on, share and play with someone special thousands of miles away or next to you on the couch. Though they are often overlooked, this kind of elegant, fun, tech can help you relieve the crushing anxiety of a world under attack or the melancholy feeling you get on a rainy day April day.
They are innovation and tech at its finest.