Rhodri Marsden: Cyberman

Everything's converging whether you like it or not

It's been a superb week for those of us who not only love music, but are also regular users of the domestic toilet. Japanese sanitary company Toto has launched its newest model of toilet seat, the Apricot, which features a built-in MP3 player - allowing us to synchronise our own movements with those of, say, the Brahms Violin Concerto. The product website features an image of a girl staring down the pan in horror, and as well she might, as the Apricot is another head-scratching example of convergence: two or more products merging into a new hybrid with the features of both but, all too often, the advantages of neither.

Convergence is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. The camera phone has kept family, friends and rolling news channels liberally supplied with our latest snapshots, and the integration of digital radio into MP3 players provides a sumptuous audio bonanza. But many examples seem to exist purely because we adore anything with an LCD display. Integrated digital clocks are almost inevitable in home appliances - I have six, all out of sync with each other - and LG Electronics has pushed kitchen technology to the realms of absurdity with its internet-ready fridge-freezer. "MP3 player, e-mail, video mail... check the latest news and weather - all without leaving the kitchen," LG boasts, ignoring the fact that leaving the kitchen is a blessed relief for many of us. "And it's great for storing food, too," it adds. Meanwhile, Fender has produced a guitar with a Hewlett Packard laptop crammed into the back, mobile phones have thermometers built in, and we're increasingly confused as to whether we're better off experiencing television via the internet or vice versa, forgetting that, for the time being, we're better off watching television on, well, a television.

Convergence reaches its absurd zenith with the "portable entertainment hub", where an MP3 player, telephone, PDA, radio, camera, games console, video, e-mail and the internet try to squeeze into one hand-held device. The Nokia N-Gage phone pitched itself as a serious gaming platform, but it took untold manual dexterity to insert a game card, and in order to speak to anyone you had to hold the thing at a preposterous 90 degree angle to your head. As the race for seamless integration hots up, we're sold complex gadgets with endless sub-menus that almost require their own satellite navigation systems to guide us through, and they're not always good value for money; blogger Ben Metcalfe recently observed that Motorola's ROKR mobile phone, trumpeted for its integration with Apple's iTunes, is more cumbersome, more expensive and has fewer features than if you'd torn up your warranties and glued an iPod nano to a Motorola RAZR. Perhaps, then, it's best to let others find out first which gadgets are compromised by their extra features - but as far as the £850 Apricot toilet seat goes, I'll be expecting perfect performance, and ultimate convenience.

cyber@timewasting.net

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pricing Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style