Why You Should Care About Emerging Technology
A revolution is taking place, and you're part of it. Technology is changing everything from how we shop, how we work, even how we vote. Whether you like it or not, it's here to stay, and we should understand the world around us if we want to thrive within it.
If you're 40 years or older, then you're part of an exclusive club. You've been witness to three seismic shifts in technology that have had profound effects on our lives.
In 1971 the microprocessor and personal computer were introduced to the world mainly thanks to the efforts of Intel. In the alpine surrounds of Switzerland, Tim Bernes Lee followed up in 1990 with the Worldwide Web, a smart way to unleash the internet upon all of us. Soon after that, we return to Silicon Valley where Steve Jobs introduced the most significant game changer of a generation - the iPhone.
To put that 40 year period into context, compare it to the technologies that launched in the previous 40 years. The fridge, washer and dryer were all started to postwar consumers. Pretty good stuff, but hardly the microprocessor.
If you want profound new technology launched before the microprocessor, you have to go all the way back to the 1930's when a majority of US households connected to electricity for the first time.
Emerging Technology Today
With our propeller hats firmly on we can look around today and find everybody talking about blockchain, cryptocurrency and voice as an interface, or otherwise known as Alexa. The US currently has over 30 million Amazon Alexa/Echo's installed. Not bad for a 2-year-old product.
With a new Initial Coin Offering (ICO) popping up every day it feels like everyone has gone crypto-crazy. There are odd ideas like the KodakCoin and the wackiest offering yet - the Venezuelan Petro. According to Crunchbase News, 2017’s ICO market grew nearly 100x. Yes! That's almost 100x.
I had put big money on virtual reality to take off last year, but it just didn't happen. It's too hard and too expensive to develop content for the platform that, when used on your smartphone, will drain your battery in 30 minutes.
Despite VR's failure, there's still plenty of technologies on the horizon that promise to be as disruptive as voice and cryptocurrencies.
Emerging Technology Tomorrow
How do we pick the next big thing in technology?
User Wow! We look for user experiences that are pure 10x better than today.
Addressable Market. What’s the size of big picture marketplace for a technology?
Openness to innovate. How open or closed is the technology ecosystem?
What does the future hold? Let's pick some winners on the technology horizon. Tomorrow is being built today on a foundation of software and data innovation. We will see the two elements come together in a spectrum of digital and analogue touch points.
1. Augmented Reality. A place where the digital and physical world meet. With Snapchat and IKEA jumping on the AR bandwagon it's clear that AR is much easier to implement and use that is bigger brother VR. All the significant smartphone designers have integrated AR toolkits in recent releases, so look out for an AR explosion.
2. Autonomous Vehicles. It's not just Tesla driving the driverless car marketplace. Uber, Nvidia and Baidu all have projects on the go and don't forget a little company in Seattle called Amazon has been experimenting with driverless delivery.
3. Face Recognition. A camera and software that can determine who you are? That's a winner for governments and defence businesses alike. Apple also includes Face ID as part of the iPhone X, so keep an eye on the Facial Recognition as a dark horse in the emerging technology race.
4. IOT Effect. Devices with sensors always connected to the internet can sound a little basic. However, the data they generate is nothing short of amazing. IOT is heading well beyond the consumer's home. Statista predicts The global Internet of Things (IoT) market will grow from $2.99T in 2014 to $8.9T in 2020.
5. Artificial Intelligence. Every tech titan has emptied its wallets into AI. The idea of a smart computer and software combo that learn and teaches itself is just too exciting for Silicon Valley execs. Whether you're talking DeepMind from Google or Watson from IBM, the market will be more than 35 billion-dollar big in 2025 for AI. There's going to be plenty of room for several winners.
Making Sense of all this Technology
For all the entrepreneurs and designers out there, the only way to make use of these technologies is to test and learn. Not just writing white papers. We're talking about building prototypes and putting them to work on real-life problems. Moreover, take those prototypes and put them in the hands of your customers.
Because there's only one way to make technology work and a Moonshot come true. Your mission is to relieve your customer's pains and create a few gains for them too. So as we face a wave of new emerging technologies, the best way to determine the future is to be more human.