The O2 Joggler is an interesting product that is pretty hard to define by the standards of any other gadget out there. Despite it’s jaunty name, which suggests immediately the family setting in which the Joggler is intended to be used, there’s a chance that the level of connectivity and information that it makes accessible might be a little invasive. The Joggler will certainly require a good deal of scrutinising to see whether it fits into the homes in which it so longs to reside.
So what is the O2 Joggler? Well, O2 describe it as a device whose intentions are to organise your family better, and in practise it might be easiest to think of it as a digital cork board with a brain. It looks very much like a digital photo frame and indeed can be used as such, with a kick stand allowing it to sit on a kitchen counter or a coffee table. It is fashioned entirely from black plastic with a reflective touch sensitive display, and the whole package is very pleasant to look at though expect the smeary fingerprints that gather on most family friendly surfaces to cake the Joggler in no time.
The O2 Joggler is all about organisation, and at its core is the link up between it and the O2 Calendar service. This is basically a free online service which allows you to set up your own Calendar account and add all of your important meetings and events, which can then be accessed from your mobile or from your O2 Joggler. This kind of syncing capability is aimed at syncing up your family life in general and in practice should make keeping the numerous appointments which litter family life a little easier. In order to perform the syncing the O2 Joggler will need to be connected to your home network via Wi-Fi, something which many homes now have available to them. The Wi-Fi connectivity is used for other things as well, such as providing a variety of information services updated in real time from online feeds. The O2 Joggler gives you access to things like news headlines, weather forecasts, traffic reports and much more. This is aimed at providing convenience that isn’t offered by other devices, and is certainly quicker than booting up your PC or laptop if you’re in a rush and need to catch the latest sports results. However, anyone who lives in a house with a TV will have access to basically the same services via 24 hour news outlets, so in some respects the Joggler is a little bit behind the times.
The Joggler can also use your Wi-Fi connection to stream media from other computers connected to the network. This means you can watch videos, view photos and listen to music on the Joggler. This is a sensible use of the Wi-Fi connection, though again the question must be asked ‘Why?’ I can understand using the Joggler as a digital picture frame when it’s not being used as a calendar, but who would choose to watch videos and music on it rather than on a laptop? It’s also interesting to note that on the O2 site itself they’ve listed the fact that the Joggler doesn’t support the playback of iTunes files. Given the popularity of Apple products and iTunes as a digital download portal this seems to be a terrible idea, though you might imagine that perhaps there’s some legal wrangling behind this omission.
One area in which the O2 Joggler may yet prove itself special is the promise of internet radio in the future. This would give the Joggler the potential to access thousands of online stations and would effectively replace any kitchen radio equipment, offering unrivalled diversity. However, this isn’t yet a reality so for the moment you shouldn’t get too excited. The O2 Joggler will also keep itself up to date automatically as long as it is connected to the internet via Wi-Fi.
So what are we to make of the O2 Joggler? Well, for the most part it offers some intelligent and unique functionality and is the first in what we can only presume will be a new area of household technology. However, given that its major functions are all performed by existing household technologies, and the homes which it hopes to infiltrate will likely already have digital TV and picture frames, along with mobile phones and broadband internet. It’s usefulness in the average home is yet to be seen, but if you feel that the organisation of your family life needs an overhaul that can’t be achieved by a paper calendar, then perhaps the O2 Joggler is for you. Only time will tell.