Viewpoint: Rise of the Machines

To quote the great philosopher, Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in while, you could miss it.”


Okay, so I love ‘80s pop culture. It’s the formative decade in which I grew up, but it was also a simpler time when we still had only a few channels on television from which to choose; music came from the radio, or a cassette tape in my “boom box”; and we had to sit within 10 feet of the phone – or however far we could stretch the cord – to speak with our friends. If we had to make a call while we were out, we needed quarters, or we called “collect.”

Yes, life has moved pretty fast since then, and, as we are all aware, technology continues to move at an even faster pace.

We eventually got cable television and VCRs; then later were introduced to DVD and Blu-Ray. Now we have DVR, on demand, streaming, and more shows than we can binge watch. We moved from cassettes to CDs to iPods to our phones. Oh, and speaking of phones, we eventually all got cell phones and the ability to make “mobile” phone calls. Now, almost all of us have smartphones…but we rarely use them to actually call anyone. However, we do use our phones to watch TV, listen to music, and play games.

Even cars have enough sensors, cameras and screens to make Knight Rider jealous. And, speaking of Knight Rider, the self-driving car is no longer a far-fetched fantasy.

Then there is the whole concept of “connectivity.” With all these technological advancements, we are all now more “connected” – or, at least our belongings and devices are more connected to each other. “Smart” homes now have “smart” thermostats (or “climate control”), programmable lighting, music, video chat screens, security monitoring, smart irrigation systems and more.

Life moves pretty fast, and in an effort to keep up, we are all seeking more control of the technology in our lives. And in many cases we are still learning how to control it all. (We took care of our friends’ cat for a week while they were away – without knowing that their house was “smart.” We locked up their house one night with the lights turned off only to return the next day to find every single light in the house turned on.)

Yes, new technologies can be a bit scary if we don’t understand them. Most of us prefer the comfort of the things we already know, and find it tough to dive into learning new technology. So, it’s understandable that many people in the outdoor power equipment industry are unsure of how to approach battery-powered equipment, robotics, and related technologies. Industry experts with whom we have spoken agree that these are some of the hottest industry trends. In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in these technologies. (And, with another of my favorite ‘80s flicks, “The Terminator,” in mind, here’s hoping that the machines don’t actually rise up against us. I don’t need any robotic mower nightmares).

But, as with our televisions, music, phones, cars and homes, new technology will continue to come our way. The challenge for all of us is to figure what technological advancements work for us, and how those technologies can benefit us.

With that in mind, this issue of OPE magazine provides a detailed examination of battery-powered outdoor power equipment and robotic mowers, what has led to the rise of these technologies, what further advancements lie in store, and what it all means for outdoor power equipment dealers.


So, please, stop and take a look at our editorial coverage beginning on page 22. We wouldn’t want you to miss it.



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