Technology has made us lazier, as you probably noticed the last time the escalator broke at the mall and you lost your breath walking up those 14 steps without robotic assistance. But don't worry; before our muscles atrophy forever and we collectively become a race of Stay Puft Marshmallow Hominids, there's a promising new way of combating laziness. It's called ... "technology."
Yes, the very same force that is turning us into pudgy couch potatoes is also being harnessed to make us get off our asses. There's something ironic about relying on machines to make you stop relying on machines, but your cholesterol levels will appreciate it nonetheless. Here are five creative gadgets and apps you can use to get in shape, assuming the hell of proper diet and exercise sounds too unbearable for you.
Fitness and old-school video games usually go together like risky surgical procedures and Jell-O shots. We're reasonably sure we'd all be at least 20 pounds lighter if Atari didn't exist. Perhaps to help undo the damage it has done to humanity's waistline, the company has now developed an app for mobile devices called Atari Fit, which intends to "gamify" your workout routine (or give you a workout routine in the first place, then "gamify" it). Basically, it's like any other fitness app, only nerdier: As you exercise, it keeps track of your successes as if you were playing an RPG, complete with experience points and levels. You can also keep track of how other people are doing in a "multiplayer" sort of way, though if there isn't an option for a teenage voice to shout racial slurs at you every time you mess up, we don't see the point.
If you don't work out for too long, it forces you to play ET: The Game instead.
OK, maybe this app isn't offering anything to gamers that they couldn't download in five seconds from some freeware site, but at least it's a tangible goal to work towards. Plus, the fact that Atari Fit boasts the ability to link up with other fitware you might already own will serve as motivation for the peripheral completionists out there who still feel no regret for having purchased a Nintendo Power Glove. We're not sure all the kinks have been ironed out yet, as rewarding physical activity with the opportunity to flop your ass onto a couch to play video games seems somewhat counterproductive in the long run, but surely they have the situation well in hand.
The Frogger-Jogger concept was killed early in development, due to several testers being killed early in development.
Don't you wish you had an annoying, judgmental friend who followed you around everywhere and pestered you whenever he or she thought you were loafing or otherwise being an indolent slob? No, not really? Well, maybe it's high time someone put you in your place -- and if an actual human isn't available to perform this necessary function, here's a fashion accessory to get your ass in gear:
"You can't trick me by masturbating."
The Jawbone UP bracelet doesn't boast fancy features such as "connecting via Bluetooth" or "having a screen" like other fitness gadgets, but it does do one thing very, very well: nag the bejesus out of you. Every time the UP senses that you've been sitting around like a load for an extended period of time (which you can configure), it begins to vibrate as if it were filled with an angry swarm of tiny, reprimanding bees. Just remember to avoid wearing beads during rattlesnake breeding season ... although having a reptile try to hump your arm does sound like a very effective way to get you off the couch.
Everyone at the office will be really impressed with your energy and/or report you to HR for meth concerns.
Simply hauling yourself out of the Barcalounger with a groan and a sigh isn't enough to appease the UP, though. You need to move your good-for-nothing carcass around a whole lot more than that if you want to convince the bracelet to ease up on the disciplinary joybuzzing. It's a good solution for those who need a physical reminder to be, uh, physical, and it's also relatively discreet. People will probably assume the UP is some flavor-of-the-month awareness wristband until it issues you one of its "reminders" and you start jerking around like a camel spider crawled up your sleeve.
The UP also does stuff like track your workouts, diet, and mood, which is presumably grumpy whenever it punishes you for watching a long movie and/or masturbating. And finally, if you miss the magical feeling of your mother violently shaking you awake every morning because you're late for school, the UP can also monitor your sleep and calculate the perfect moment to go off -- no doubt causing you to flail around like you fell asleep with a lit cigarette in your hand.
Hopefully, Jawbone installed a tiny camera so employees can gather around and laugh when you freak out in the morning.
Most "mobile" games don't deserve to be called that, since the only activity they incite is limited to your fingers and credit card. Ingress is also an addictive game for mobile devices, but it was designed with a goal in mind even grander than Kate Upton's medieval armor-ensconced boobs. According to creator John Hanke (who's also one of the creators of Google Earth), it's supposed to "get people more deeply in touch with the real world" ... by, uh, convincing them they're part of a futuristic war involving portals and aliens. But it also has them do a shitload of walking, sightseeing, and interacting with real people.
All while looking at your phone. So you've upgraded from hermit to millennial
A game that makes you go outside and talk to strangers might sound like some new scheme cooked up by Craigslist cannibals, but it's actually pretty cool. The gist is that players are divided into two factions, and in order for one side to gain an advantage, they must take part in events and activities that occur at various points of interest (none of which include your basement and/or attic). The activities range from simply standing in a specific place to claim it for your team, to more elaborate actions that involve several players. Apparently, it's engaging enough for the game to have been downloaded over 2 million times, and can result in public parks filling with people, all there for the sole purpose of shooting virtual missiles at one another.
Finally, it's acceptable to roam around parks filled with children while wearing a raincoat and looking disheveled.
As Ingress "transforms the real world into the landscape for a global game of mystery, intrigue and competition," it's causing folks to explore and interact with their community in ways they may never have attempted or even considered before. Honestly, it's an interesting concept and we hope it catches on -- as long as the players don't get too extreme and "LARPy" about it, causing the streets to be filled with hollering nerds and making old people the ones afraid to come outdoors.
Drugs aren't required to play, but they do enhance the graphics.
It may look like something that fell off the intake manifold after a pothole encounter, but the Belty is as technologically brilliant as it is lazily named. It's literally a belt, but one that adjusts itself based on your position, how much you've eaten, or anything else that might make your pants feel tighter or looser.
"Your move, wedding buffet. Your move."
The Belty has been called the world's first "smart belt," but we get the impression that "brutally honest belt" might be more accurate. Not only does it use built-in motors and advanced girth-sensing mechanisms to tighten as your waist size decreases and expand whenever you cram your face with deep-fried butter sticks from the Iowa State Fair, but it can also provide direct feedback about your gross eating habits.
By wirelessly communicating embarrassing metrics to your phone, the Belty is designed to curb obesity by letting you know when you've been eating too much and exercising too little in the most direct way possible, outside of straight-up asking whether you miss life in the ocean among all the other belugas. Each time it automatically loosens, it will trigger notifications to be sent throughout the day to remind you of the happy times when you could still see your own genitalia. Because when even your belt cries out for help, you know it's time to cut down on the Milky Ways.
"Also, you should lose that stupid shirt. And find someone and settle down while you're at it."
On top of that, an accelerometer and gyroscope will take note whenever you stop in your tracks to break down and sob, providing further notifications suggesting that you engage in more activity. We're looking forward to this company's future products, like a comb that detects and points out your male pattern baldness and a condom that laughs all day. It just ... laughs.
If you work in front of a computer, you probably already know (and have started panicking about) the fact that sitting too much subtracts years from your life. But as we pointed out recently, standing too much kills you, too. So what the hell are we supposed to do? Start making desks that automatically move up and down throughout the day?
Yeah, pretty much.
"Hey guys, I put all your coffee orders over th- shit." -- Some Poor Intern
The folks at a company called Stir (founded by a guy who worked on the first iPods) have come up with a desk that does a whole lot more than collect coffee stain rings. Their new invention, the Kinetic Desk, ships complete with built-in thermal sensors that sense when you've arrived. And when you've spent an inordinate amount of time slumping in your seat staring at mrskin.com, it notices and makes you get right the hell up.
Workplace masturbation will now be confined to the break room and/or parking garage.
The way the desk gets you to stand up sounds like the creepiest username in a My Little Pony fanfic chat room ("Whisperbreath"), but what it does, after taking note of your daily routine, is gently raise and lower itself by way of silent, motorized legs. They've modeled the movement to mimic a human breath, with the table "sighing" up and down an inch or two as a reminder of your disgusting torpidity. You can choose to ignore the suggestion, as the desk still requires a double-tap on a touchscreen to announce you're ready to switch positions. What you can't ignore is the fact that the desk also tracks everything you've been doing there over the course of the day, whether it be sitting, standing, or dicking off somewhere else entirely, so it probably knows what's best for you better than you do.
"I can't let you do that, Dave. Think of your posture."
You may not think that being prompted to constantly get up and flop back down like a dysentery patient will do much for you physically, but Stir CEO JP Labrosse claims that, "If you can work up to standing for half the day, it takes just two weeks to burn as many calories as you'd burn running a marathon." We're willing to take him at his word on that, but we should also point out that the nearly $4,000 price tag should provide enough hyperventilating to cover most people's cardio needs for a month.
And to further straighten out your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.