Finally, a Real Reason to Use Wearable Technology

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 28 2014 4:42 PM

Finally, a Real Reason to Use Wearable Technology

Let us rejoice: Programmers have finally discovered a legitimate reason to use wearable technology.

At Netflix's Hack Day last week, one intrepid group of programmers built a system that would link your FitBit (or, presumably, any fitness tracker) to your Netflix account. Why would this be useful? Because, using the tracker's sensors, Netflix can automatically pause whatever you're watching if the FitBit detects you're asleep. (Though, as Seth Stevenson observed in his Slate column on fitness trackers, they are not always reliable at detecting if you're asleep or just resting.) Whenever you wake up and resume your American Horror Story binge, you can choose to start at your last bookmark or your "sleep bookmark."

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"As a FitBit user falls asleep, the FitBit registers data to its API that can be collected by any connected device," the video explains. "By using this prompt, Netflix can smoothly fade back audio and offer on-screen prompts for when the user may awaken." Unfortunately, since this was part of an internal hackathon, it's unlikely to come to fruition.

Though I wouldn't go so far as to call it the most nightmarish facet of human existence, as PC magazine and Popular Science do, falling asleep while watching Netflix and then trying to find your place in Breaking Bad the next day can be mildly inconvenient. And what is wearable computing for if not to quell the mild inconveniences of the well-to-do?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.