Gut Check: Obesity’s Effect on Technology

obesity-technology-nanotouch""We’ve watched the world slowly expand to support America’s growing waistlines. Everything’s getting bigger, from hospital beds to ballpark seats — and now, it seems the world of tech is being forced to loosen its belt, too.

Sure, shrinking devices have been the trend for years now. But it turns out those tiny electronics are too small for our nation’s corndog-happy customers to operate. So scientists have actually come up with a workaround to let Johnny Big Mac have his cake and eat it — then still be able to operate his smartphone with his bloated fingers. Hey, why reshape yourself when you can just reshape the world around you?

So here’s the deal: Researchers at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute are working with the Microsoft Research team to come up with a fix for what they call the “fat finger” problem. Put bluntly, people’s fingers are too damned fat to be able to accurately hit the buttons on their touchscreen devices.

The solution, then, is something called NanoTouch. It puts a 2.5 inch screen on the back of a touchscreen device. That means you can use your finger like a cursor — and, being that it’s on the back side, your fat hand won’t keep you from seeing what you’re touching. (There may be a “that’s what she said” somewhere in that sentence.) Plus, with the cursor-style functionality, you don’t have to hit a target directly. You can slide around until you reach it instead. (Once again…)

Now, admittedly, modern technology can have some small surfaces. But there’s no denying Americans also have increasingly large appendages — and not in the “locker room showoff” sort of sense, either. It makes you wonder how long it’ll be before the standard keyboard has to be updated with “extra roomy” keys as well.

You know, this whole situation really just drags me down. Think I’ll go grab a supersized value meal and a couple of sundaes to lift my spirits. Then maybe I’ll be clear-minded enough to be able to figure out the real underlying problem here.