Saturday, January 17, 2009

Marriage in trouble? Try a new electronic gadget. (No, not that kind)

Consumer electronics executives often refer to certain products as “marriage savers.”
At press conferences and in product demos, these executives, usually men, will talk about how a simple-to-use device will settle conflicts between spouses. Members of the press, usually men, nod knowingly or chuckle.
At the Consumer Electronics Show last week, a Toshiba executive made the claim about a new TV that uses Dolby Volume. This technology provides a consistent volume when watching TV or movies on DVD. It automatically turns up the volume on quiet dialogue and turns down the volume for loud commercials. With Dolby Volume, viewers won’t have to constantly adjust the volume while switching channels or watching a movie.
“This really works and I think it’s going to save my marriage,” said Scott Ramirez, vice president of marketing for the TV group at Toshiba America Consumer Products.
At CES 2008, General Motors Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said his company’s OnStar service is a marriage saver, because – as everyone knows – men won’t stop the car to ask for directions. “We’re not just saving lives, we’re saving marriages,” he said.
With OnStar, users can ask for directions or call for emergency service or roadside assistance. The in-dash system also notifies authorities automatically after a crash.
The “marriage saver” description has been used for GPS navigation devices, universal remote controls, PC backup drives, cordless TV headsets, Netflix family-member queues, and digital video recorders like TiVo.
A study released last September seemed to show that DVRs save relationships. The study, by NDS, said 79% of 1,000 DVR owners reported that DVR technology has improved their relationship. U.K.-based NDS is a leading provider of set-top box software for cable and satellite TV services. Media giant News Corp. owns more than 70% of NDS, according to Hoovers.
If only all marriage conflicts were as easy to solve.
(Photo above shows the TV Listener infrared cordless television headset system from Unisar. The manufacturer calls the device … wait for it … “The Marriage Saver.”)

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