Opinion: Not even remotely funny


With the newest TV remote controls, you don’t have to “enter” the channel on the device: You simply say what channel you want, and voila! There it is on the screen. Of course, most times you will be asked to repeat yourself, because the high-tech gadget failed to understand you. As my wife Mary Ellen noted, quite aptly, “I might as well ask you to switch channels, Dick. You can’t hear me half the time, either.”

Why are functions only on the remote? They jam all those buttons onto something the size of a stapler when they could have put them on the set, as well. Absent-minded as I am, I have never lost a TV screen … and then found it in my sock drawer.

If I didn’t have to tear my couch apart at least twice a month to look for the remote, I wouldn’t have $235.89 worth of change in a cookie jar and I’d still be wondering what happened to my wedding ring, my extra set of keys and 17 ballpoint pens.

The remote control is third only to movable type and the Squatty Potty for the world’s-greatest inventions. To avoid losing the remote, I wrapped a long piece of dental floss around it, then tied the line to the coffee table leg. I never lost the remote … and I remembered to floss 45 percent more often. And only once did I trip on the floss and sprain my ankle.

One company has solved the disappearing remote problem. They are introducing a television that obeys commands based on hand and body movements. This technology is called gesture recognition (it’s a concept we are all familiar with when we cut someone off on 465). “The TV has a camera and will recognize you if you are in front of it,” the manufacturer says. This intrigued me, because I’ve been in front of a camera for 40 years, and I’m still having a heck of a time being recognized.

You can wiggle your fingers, point up or down or make various other motions and the TV will respond. It’s like sign language. Let’s say my wife and I are about to retire for the evening. As she watches me flex my fingers and rotate my palms, she wonders if I’m about to give her a romantic massage. “Ooh, Dick, are you trying to turn me on?”

“No, I’m trying to turn on Stephen Colbert. What’s the sign for CBS?”

One day, all this technology will also be introduced in the kitchen. With the proper hand signals, we’ll be able to operate the stove, the microwave and the air fryer.

I don’t do any food preparation, so these hands-free innovations won’t affect me. When it comes to cooking, I have no interest in lifting a finger.