Greetings, Earth dwellers! In this month’s edition of Tech Trek, Maggie reviews an extra-meta manicure, and Amber considers the TV show Black Mirror’s dystopian future.
Gadget Review: Metaverse Nails
Prepare to get meta–supermeta–with this wild nail art from the future. Metaverse Nails is an example of “wearable tech.” Like the Drawsta animated T-shirt I reviewed in June, Metaverse uses technology similar to a QR code to make digital animations spring from artificial fingernails when you view them through a smartphone app. I’m a fairly committed tomboy and have only painted my nails about 10 times in my entire life, but this digital manicure totally won me over.
What I love: The zany animations look like something out of Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century. The nails themselves are really cool-looking and make a statement even when you’re not using the app. I also love that in an interview with i-D, the Metaverse CEO said, “It’s for feminists and artists who like self-expression. Being able to rewrite yourself is very queer!”
What I don’t love: The app can be…annoying. It takes a while for it to sync with the nail, and once it’s linked up, you can’t move your finger much without losing the connection. The connection to the camera is also glitchy, and the buttons in the app were often unresponsive when I tapped on them.
Bottom line: If you’ve got 20 bucks and a medium-high level of patience, I think these nails are a ton of fun. They’ll definitely take your selfie game to the next level 💅 —Maggie
TV Show of the Month: Black Mirror (Netflix)
If you’re reading this right now, you obviously own (or have access to) a computer or mobile device. And as a person who owns (or has access to) a computer or mobile device, you need to watch Black Mirror. It’s a Twilight Zone-y anthology series that examines the dark undercurrent of the kind of tech-centric society that you’re living in RIGHT NOW. Aaaah! Also, it’s pretty awesome.
Created by genius satirist Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror premiered in the U.K. in 2011. Although Brooker is an extremely funny guy, this show ain’t no joke—some episodes are darkly humorous, most are haunting and mildly disturbing, and all are philosophically provocative. The two seasons (or “series,” since this is a British show) that have so far been released featured three episodes, telling three isolated, grim fables about modern life. (The show’s third season premieres this month on Netflix, so now is a great time to catch up.) Thematically, the stories touch on subjects such as voyeurism, the nature of celebrity, and love; all are set in an alternate reality where technology is just a little bit more efficient, a little bit more pervasive, and seems even more (a whole lot more) insidious than it is today.
In one story, the characters have implants that allow them to record and then play back every moment of their days; in another, people are able to “block” other people offline; and in my favorite story, an episode called “Be Right Back” that stars Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson, a person’s digital footprint can be used to create an AI copy of them after they die. Each episode alludes to a modern phenomenon that is easily accepted or enjoyed by the vast majority of us and then presents an intellectual horror story about the dangers of doing that. Black Mirror is our world turned up a notch and those very subtle differences between the science fiction you’ll see in the show and science fact as we experience it in our everyday lives are what make the often heartbreaking stories so chilling, relevant, and riveting. —Amber ♦