With the American waistline expanding, many companies are doing their part to combat obesity. Netflix joins the fray with the Netflix Walking Stick.
Los Gatos, California – With more than a third of adults in the United States being classified as obese, and one in twenty in the realm of extreme or morbid obesity, experts all agree: something must be done to curb the growth of the American waistline. Restaurants have begun to serve smaller portions, doctors have increased public awareness of surgical solutions, and even politicians have jumped in, banning the sale of large fountain drinks in New York City.
Now Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings wants to do his part.
“With as much as twenty five percent of all American internet traffic being attributed to Netflix, I can say I’m proud of our accomplishment,” he said at a recent corporate event. “But our success also comes with a degree of responsibility.”
Television has long been labeled a refuge for the lazy or inactive, but the rise of services like Netflix Streaming and Hulu Plus allows viewers to binge-watch entire seasons – or entire series! – in one sitting, upping the ante for those who prefer self-imposed lethargy. Netflix, always interested in being on the cutting edge of entertainment technology, is on the verge of releasing a new product to help combat the sedentary lifestyles to which they’ve contributed.
“We call it the Netflix Walking Stick,” Hastings announced.
The Netflix Walking Stick isn’t what it sounds like. It’s a bendable USB stick – hence the name – capable of plugging in to your computer or smart TV. It is designed to be worn around the wrist, like any other activity tracker, similar to the Fitbit or the Microsoft Band. Why call it the Walking Stick?
“The point is to encourage motion,” said Dr. Ambu Latori, a researcher hired by the streaming entertainment giant to aid in the development of their new exercise initiative. “It interfaces with your computer, television, streaming box, or game console in order to let us know just how much you’ve been moving. ”
Simply put, the more active you are, the more Netflix you can watch. Each hour of streaming video equals about one hundred fifty calories, or twenty minutes of vigorous walking. And though the beta test for the Walking Stick was voluntary, rumor has it the device will be required once it sees its public debut.
Some Netflix customers disapprove of the idea, claiming the act of paying for the service entitles them to its use, but upcoming changes to the Netflix terms of service – a legal contract to which users must agree before taking advantage of Netflix’ offerings – spell out the future of streaming television: You must walk before your TV can talk.
Interestingly, other companies have expressed interest in the technology. Netflix is in talks with both Sony and Microsoft to add Walking Stick-like devices to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. (In Microsoft’s case, the technology will be added directly to the Band, which will then be shipped with every console purchased.) This means those kids who spend sixteen hours a day playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will need real exercise before logging in to shoot imaginary terrorists all night long.
They might even have to leave their parents’ basement and be exposed to sunlight once in a while.