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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Technology takes hold at home
Texting has become phenomenally popular, especially among women
It probably should not come as a great surprise that the pace at which technology is evolving is having a massive impact on us.

But things are certainly changing, not just in our spending habits, but what we do with our leisure time once we have got our gadgets and tech toys back home, according to a recent report.

The findings are interesting for several reasons, says Simon Shipley, UK and Ireland brand manager for Intel, the company which commissioned the report into how Europeans spend their time in this age of technological overkill.

"Compared to five years ago," he says, "two thirds of Europeans are now positively engaging with technology in the way they use it in their everyday lives.

"If we look at 50 years ago, we only had the post and telephone lines in the house. Even five years ago it was really just the microwave, the TV and the cordless phone.

"But if you look now people have 10 to 14 different digital devices. It's a huge number. We're looking at anything from digital TV, digital radio, satellite navigation, MP3 players, PVR technology, cordless phones, mobile phones, PDAs, the list goes on.

"I think any manufacturer in this segment has to be very clear that what we produce has to be simplistic. It has to enrich our lives and not make it more complex.

"I think as we start to see the emergence of hub technology in the home, we've got this convergence of consumer electronic devices and PC devices. As we go through 2005 and 2006 they are really starting to merge."

No compromise

And Simon is convinced that convergence is the future.

"Nobody wants to have five or six remote controls in the home", he says.

"If you can get down to one device, for example the entertainment PC that converges these things together, that allows you to have better content, video on demand, music on demand, as well as your standard programming PVR capability, the ability to upload your photos and share them with your family, I think any device that can manage those functions is going to be the one the people naturally gravitate to."

Simon Shipley
I think the social changes that happen are that we're coming back to the idea of choosing our own media consumption
Simon Shipley, Intel
But does convergence mean compromise? Simon does not think so.

"Currently there's over 150 CE and PC companies working together to make sure there are standards interoperable between devices.

"For the consumer that means that when you take something out of the box and plug it in it's going to work.

"It's not going to be a headache to set up, you're not going to have compromises in what you can do with it.

"I think Intel sees this - particularly in the home - as having any content, any time, anywhere.

"And it has to work together. If you're playing music to your stereo, if you're beaming TV pictures or film around the house to a different screen, it all has to work together and it has to work out of the box for the consumer to use."

Techie love

One specific area where technology seems to be becoming more popular is dating. This includes text messaging, e-mail and online dating services.

Remote controls
Most people get frustrated having so many different remote controls
Simon says: "Staggeringly, 10% of Europeans are happy to date by a text, e-mail or online.

"I think one of the benefits of that is that your ego takes less of a dent if you get turned down via a text or an e-mail, so people feel much more confident doing it."

There has been a particular upsurge among women.

But how has technology really affected our social lives - are we far more flexible, less lonely?

Simon says: "I think with the advent of text and e-mail people get an understanding of what their friends and extended circle are doing, so they feel more informed and more up to date.

"We saw that e-mail is now the premier type of communication ahead of telephone calls, for keeping in touch with your extended friends.

"I think the social changes that happen are that we're coming back to the idea of choosing our own media consumption.

"We can interact more, there are a lot more groups out there. As we start talking to these groups we build up this idea of social equity.

"This is to say that rather than having lots of individuals with one voice each, we've got this group of people who have similar interests, similar benefits, they're able to talk about the same thing, and that carries a lot more weight."

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