Blogs > Sara Gutterman > January 2013 > Garden of Digital Delights

Garden of Digital Delights

Last week, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which showcased a seemingly infinite panoply of advanced technologies, intelligent devices, and forward thinking ideas for connected living. From voice-activated TVs to highly sophisticated projectors with image mapping capability to self-driving vehicles, the show floor was a veritable garden of digital delights.

I was duly impressed by the emphasis on connected home and renewable energy technologies (particularly solar). Whole home automation systems that enable homeowners not just to measure their resource use but also to interact with the smart grid to select when and how they want to use their HVAC, appliances, lighting, and other devices have become a viable and cost-effective reality (you can purchase a whole home energy kit by Ingersoll Rand’s Nexia from Home Depot for $300).

LG’s suite of products are now fully integrated, which means that their high efficiency (18%) solar panels can generate all the power that is needed to run their efficient ductless HVAC systems, consumer electronics, and appliances. And those appliances have become so intelligent that they can be programmed to turn themselves on or off to reduce energy use and expense. You can even check in with your refrigerator on the way home from work using your smart phone to see if you have the proper ingredients for dinner!

Panasonic’s Eco Solutions group is making advancements in battery storage technology, which is the currently the bottleneck for widespread, residential and industrial-scale use of solar and wind systems, as well as modular kitchen systems, ventilation fans, self-cleaning toilets, and water heating systems.

Without doubt, I’m a huge advocate of the digital age. After spending a few days at CES, my mind is racing with ideas and images for a streamlined future that sleek, mobile, and sustainable.

With that said, after roaming isle after isle of booths displaying endless gizmos designed to engage the hearts and wallets of consumers, I can’t help but wonder—what exactly does the fast pace and full absorption of non-stop connectivity do to the human spirit? At what point does the spirit hunger for a more natural connection with other living beings and the environment? And how much is too much—when will the spirit suffer from the overstimulation of bits and bytes?

I’m trying to find my own equilibrium between time spent in front of the screen versus in the trees. I must admit, despite my best efforts, I tend towards too much of the former and not enough of the latter (too many airplane flights, not enough mountain trails). But I continue to mindfully strive for balance.

I look forward to Green Builder Media’s upcoming Impact Series webinar on the concept of Nature-Deficit-Disorder with award-winning author Richard Louv on January 29 at 2 ET. Louv doesn’t just understand Nature-Deficit-Disorder, he coined the term and started a movement to connect today’s children with the natural world. Perhaps in the dialogue between Green Builder Media President, Ron Jones, and Louv about a new vision of the future, in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology, I can find some solutions for equilibrium.

How do you think the human spirit is affected by the digital age? Write to me at or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

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Posted: 1/18/2013 9:34:48 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

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