From Memmo to RunPee: how technology has made our lives easier

As the world changes out of recognition, technology is coming to the rescue in some inventive ways, writes Sbu Mkwanazi

03 January 2021 - 00:03 By Sbu Mkwanazi
Here's how technology is playing a leading role in making our lives easier.
Here's how technology is playing a leading role in making our lives easier.
Image: 123RF/perig76

None of us could have predicted the year that was 2020, all because of an invisible disease called Covid-19. At first we thought the effects of the pandemic would be a temporary part of our lives, lasting just three weeks. Almost nine months later and we're still not out of the woods — but technology is playing a leading role in making our lives easier.


Actors, musicians and other celebrities whose lives involved recording studios, off-site recordings and collaborating with other creatives are facing a rather different future.

One of the ways they've kept in touch with their fans is through an app called Memmo. The Swedish platform allows a fan to book a celebrity to record and send a personalised video message.

Gangster rap artist Snoop Dogg, TV personality Caitlyn Jenner and Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame are on the Memmo menu, ready to say and do anything you want them to. Perhaps you want Vladimir Furdik (who plays the Night King in Game of Thrones) to pull off the #JerusalemaChallenge dance moves for a friend in quarantine. Or maybe you have a more complicated request that involves Ernie Hudson banishing the coronavirus, like he did phantoms in Ghostbusters.

In case you were wondering, the local version of the same concept is called myFanPark and celebrities like Kurt Darren (R1,700), Siya Kolisi (R700) and Bryan Habana (R1,000) are at your beck and call.


Audiences and creatives need to accept that masks are not going anywhere. Just like it was normal in the bad ol' days to see someone smoking or having unprotected sex as part of a television show or film, masks will surely be part of the new landscape.

Japanese start-up Donut Robotics has developed the C-Face Smart Mask that not only allows people to talk to each other at a distance of up to 10m, it also translates speech into eight different languages.

With SA in the grip of the second wave, this hi-tech mask opens up a world of possibilities for the entertainment industry. For starters, social distancing could be increased to more than the obligatory 1.5m, and a single show could be performed in up to eight of our 11 official languages.


Imagine being in a socially distanced queue for food at this year's DStv Delicious Festival, Cape Town Jazz Festival or Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees. Besides the usual offering of burgers, pizzas and chips, advances in food technology could mean that you'd be ordering something slightly more "cultured".

In Singapore, the world's first lab-grown chicken nuggets go on sale this month. US start-up Eat Just will serve the artificially cultured "chicken" to guests at the swanky 1880 restaurant in Singapore. The question is whether or not global customers will swallow the idea.


We can all agree that watching choreographer and ballerina Kitty Phetla live is way superior to experiencing her on one of our screens. And being immersed in Nataniël's showmanship in person will always be better than downloading one of his performances. However, had it not been for online performances and app-based content, there would have been no alternative during lockdown.

The various industries that fall under the umbrella of lifestyle need to futureproof themselves. This is all based on technology.

For example, one app that can assist the travel and tourism industry is Skiplagged. It searches what travel gurus term "hidden city" flights. These are flights that can be booked at much cheaper prices as they are seen as layovers on the way to various destinations. The app quickly sorts out the cheapest flights and accommodation, ensuring travellers can spend their money on expensive face masks with translating features instead.

And while we're not yet 100% encouraged to take to the skies, how about keeping technology to our nether regions? RunPee is an app that tells you the best time to run to the loo while watching a film at the movie theatre.

Whether or not a lockdown level permits cinema visits, most people will be conditioned to watching on streaming services at home, where many of us overdo that soda and need to relieve ourselves. Worry not: RunPee summarises the exact scene you missed and gets you up to speed, without you feeling pressed.

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