Clear answers to shopper's fuzzy questions: Rhys Williams goes in search of hi-tech on the high street and gets a lesson on simple logic

Set the Rollei Prego camera to 'fuzzy' mode and what do you get? A clearer, sharper picture, of course. And that's logic?

Colin at Tecno on Euston Road in London, who will let you have this canny piece of tackle for pounds 200, grimaced: 'Look, 'fuzzy logic' is just a buzzword nicked from the computer world to describe a bit of new technology.' He leant forward and hissed: 'It's a load of bollocks really.'

According to the manual, it 'computes correctly exposed and sharp photos by optimising the focal length, flash and shutter speed in accordance with the exposure situation'. Meaning? Well, if you take a photo of someone standing against a bright light - like the sun - the camera can remove the bright elements that distort its readings and take a perfect portrait.

Fuzzy Logic follows Chaos Theory as the latest philosophical fad. It is founded on the idea that there is very little black and white in the world, but an awful lot of grey - a blinding glimpse of the obvious which seems set to spawn a whole new generation of 'smart' technology. Already they are talking of a brave new world where hyper-intelligent washing machines will hunt down lost single socks and root out the rogue black underpants hidden in the sleeves of white shirts.

Still confused? I was. Only one place for it - John Lewis in Brent Cross Shopping Centre, north London. Never knowingly undersold, so probably never knowingly not in the know about anything.

Mrs Philpott in White Goods explained that fuzzy logic had nothing to do with putting too much Comfort in with the woollies. 'Basically, on a Bosch washing machine, the 'fuzzy logic' option means that it can work out if the load is out of balance and then adjust itself before spinning. Apparently it can even tell what fabric the clothes are made of. Don't ask me how, that's what the rep told me. Could you get this gentleman a brochure, please?' The brochure tells you that the fuzzy option is 'new', 'easy to use' and costs pounds 50 extra.

'Can you tell me about fuzzy logic please,' I asked an assistant at Dixons. First assistant: 'What the bloody hell is that then?'

'Not sure, but it's advertised as a special feature on that pounds 599 Sanyo camcorder behind you.'

Assistant: 'Oh, right. Oi, Eddie, what is 'fuzzy logic'?'

Eddie: 'Er, I don't know. Jerry, what is fuzzy logic?'

Jerry to Eddie: 'It's a system of focusing whereby the camcorder takes its metering from across the whole frame rather than just one point in the middle. It means you get a better picture.'

Eddie: 'Right. It's a system which, um, gives you a better picture.'

'How?'

Eddie: 'Jerry, can you look after this customer please?'

Same chain, different branch, and an assistant keener to live up to his job title. 'It's very simple really,' Keith at Moorfields in the City began, hopefully. 'Most camcorders operate on pure logic, which means they work on a simple yes/no basis. So when the camera says 'yes', the subject is in focus. But it might be that when it says 'yes', the subject is not quite in focus. Fuzzy logic allows the camera to take a second look. It memorises the readings from the first look and then adjusts a little bit either way to see if it can improve the picture. It basically acts like a human being.'

And that is fuzzy logic.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

£7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 2nd & 3rd Line

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The IT Support Engineer is needed to ass...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Officer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It's an exciting time for this ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones