Make Sure Your Technology Works (Especially Before You Put It On National Television)

I promise you: I do not hate the Today Show. In fact, I watch it every morning (obviously, as I am writing about it AGAIN!). This time however, it is not necessarily a complaint about the Today Show, but an observation about technology, AV in particular.

This morning on the program, they were again in the Orange Room talking about what was “trending” on “social media.” Carson Daly is apparently already on vacation from his new job and Tamron Hall was managing the room. If you have seen the show, they use an LED touch monitor for visuals. A swipe slides from one image to the next. It is certainly not new technology (or new in a newscast) but it is modern, and does break up the anchor sitting at the desk.

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So, what is my gripe? It does not seem to work for anyone but Carson Daly. Other anchors struggle with it and this morning was no exception, as Tamron Hall tried unsuccessfully to get the screen to swipe. Being slightly more than a “casual observer” I paid careful attention as she tried to get it to move, and she seemed to be doing it correctly. A single finger, swiped from right to left. It is possible that she did it a little too fast, but it looked correct otherwise.

And that is my gripe. Why are we using technology that is not really ready for prime time? Or, if we are, why are we not working with the people who will be using it, and show them how to use it better? This is certainly not unique to the Today Show. We see it everywhere, all the time. The fact is that touch interactive monitors are certainly not new. So, I can only imagine that in this case, the reporter had not spent enough time with this technology to feel really comfortable with it. So, again I have to ask, why are they putting her on national TV and making her use it!

I often take the approach that if a technology takes “training” then it is too complicated for the average user. However, I also think training needs to be differentiated from a person getting comfortable with new technology. An example, when I buy a new car (or rent one), I don’t expect the salesman to get in the car with me for 30 minutes and explain how everything works. They are all pretty much the same. However, before I go and start driving down the highway I do take a few minutes and get comfortable with the vehicle. I adjust the seat, learn how to turn on the lights and the windshield wipers and make sure I get a sense of how the car handles.

Yet, with technology, we often don’t do that. We walk into presentations (or morning TV shows) and just assume that we know how to use the technology. So, whether you are a presenter, tech manager, integrator or installer I highly encourage you to push this idea of getting comfortable with technology (or having your customers do so) before they in front of the room. Play with the technology, test it out, check the volume levels, find out what happens when you change sources.