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O2's Joggler: the digital fridge door

I love it when kit does something innovative, something I’ve not seen before. So in theory I ought to love the O2 Joggler.
Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributing Writer

I love it when kit does something innovative, something I’ve not seen before. So in theory I ought to love the O2 Joggler. But I’m finding it a bit difficult to get a warm glow going.

O2 is marketing the Joggler primarily as a replacement for all that stuff families apparently have stuck to their fridges. Appointment cards, notes to family members, dates and reminders for this and that.

The Joggler houses them all on a calendar. You can edit this on the Joggler, online or by sending a text message. Joggler and the online calendar will synchronise via your home Wi-Fi or wired network. You can arrange for texts to be sent to designated mobile numbers as reminders or you can send the calendar a text asking for reminders of a full day’s activities.

What I can’t decide is whether a family would actually use the system. I mean, can you see Sue (aged 15) updating the calendar with her whereabouts? Or Mike (aged 12)? Or little Angus (aged 3).

Nope, this is a parent thing. And O2’s marketing suggests it is actually mum thing.

She organises family life using the Internet and Joggler, blithely removing appointments people have made for themselves to accommodate other things she thinks they should do. Watch at the above link and you’ll see her remove dad’s golf game so he can participate in son’s birthday event.

I’m not going to get into the gender politics aspect of this. Instead I simply wonder how families will respond to this type of dictatorship?

The idea is that once appointments are set (or changed) and people are sent confirming texts, they just go along with things. Might those with access to the calendar not just go back in and reinstate removed activities? Digital anarchy could prevail.

There is a cost to all this, of course. O2 charges a Family Bolt On fee of £7.34 for 6 people (one pays, 5 are free), or £12.24 for an Extended Family Bolt on (buying an extra 5 free people access).

The Joggler can do other things. Its 7-inch touch screen can deliver weather, news and sports (from Sky) and traffic updates. You can use it as a digital photo frame storing photos on its 1GB of memory or using a USB key drive. It’ll play music and videos stored in its memory or streamed from a PC or USB key. You can play Sudoku. Use it as a calculator or alarm clock. And apparently soon it will incorporate Internet radio and up to 50 free texts to any mobile in the UK.

I have some technical quibbles. Among them are that you can’t set an appointment end time. ‘Sarah’s piano lesson’ might start at 4.30, but you can’t tell the calendar, or therefore Sarah by automatic SMS, when it ends. And the Joggler won’t bing when an appointment is due. In both senses it is worse than a paper calendar on the fridge door, as at least one of those is in eyesight all the time and you can designate start and end points for commitments.

If you use Outlook, Google Calendar or some other tool, there’s no synching, so Joggler’s has to be a separate maintenance exercise. And Joggler lacks that most important feature of any connected device, a Web browser.

The Joggler is sitting on my desk as I write this, and I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks but, like I said, finding it difficult to feel warmth towards it. The technical quibbles niggle at me but they could all be fixed. Ultimately it is the sociology, not the technology that I have problems with.

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