Magazine article Newsweek International

Too Much Technology

Magazine article Newsweek International

Too Much Technology

Article excerpt

Byline: Gersh Kuntzman

Are you such a multitasker that the single-minded job of driving has gotten boring? Don't worry, now there are DVD movie-players for the front seat of your car!

Are you so alienated from nature that you can't tell when a piece of fruit is ripe? Never fear. A new line of packaging tells you when it's ready to eat.

Are you too impatient for your morning coffee to wait eight minutes while your automatic drip machine brews a fresh pot? Voila --coffee that makes itself.

Impressive? I suppose so. But increasingly, it seems to me, we Americans are so agog over the latest technological gadgetry that we overlook a simple fact: we usually don't need it. Take self-heating coffee from a Delaware company named OnTech. Flip the can on its head, press a button on the bottom, then shake for 10 seconds. Turn it back over and let it sit for eight minutes. A mixture of specially treated water interacting with calcium oxide makes a piping hot cup of morning joe. Sounds yummy, but wait. Eight minutes plus 10 seconds? Your old pal, Mr. Coffee, can brew an entire pot in half the time!

OnTech plans to introduce a whole line of such drinks, beginning with a latte created by Wolfgang Puck, who used to be an important chef but whose rep nowadays resides chiefly in your supermarket's freezer section. With OnTech, he will certainly go where no chef has gone before. Given that most Americans have fairly easy access to a freshly brewed, foamy, delicious latte for roughly the same price as Puck's canned mixture of coffee, milk, artificial sweetener, pectin and acesulfame potassium, the most logical place for OnTech's innovation is aboard the space shuttle. Yet CEO Jonathan Weisz is confident. "There's a huge need for this product," he says. "Everyone has such an on-the-go lifestyle. …

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