First there was TV. Then came the PC. Then we saw the rise of the Internet and the social web (aka Web 2.0). After that came the explosion of smart phones, and that brings us to today. Admittedly that is a slightly abbreviated version of human history, but that’s ok. The point is, what’s next?
The Future is Now. Time to Start Shopping.
I had the fortune of attending the APPNATION IoT Influencers Summit in Santa Clara earlier this week where I met with thought leaders across the tech field. In light of that experience I can say without hesitation that the next great wave of advancement comes in the form of contextually-aware and focus-built devices that step in to give us superpowers when needed, and recede into the background when not. And this coming IoT revolution is not right around the corner. It’s here now. By “now” I mean, time to start your Christmas shopping- the next wave has arrived.
So, what is the common thread here? What makes for a great “thing” in this Internet of Things? After a day at the APPNATION conference, attending talks and participating in conversations, a few themes began to emerge. There are certain key characteristics of a connected device that people will actually want to use.
Superpowers, Fashion, and the Invisible UI
The key takeaway is that people want their lives easier and less cluttered. Adding more devices to that seems like a recipe for increased complexity, but when executed the right way these additional devices can give us superpowers. And they can look good doing it (or better yet, make us look good). So, to achieve these goals, devices to follow these basic guidelines commandments:
- Give me a superpower. Otherwise, why should I bother with you? I have enough devices and gadgets in my life. I’m trying to streamline here.
- Get out of my way. Disappear. Don’t require any extra effort from me. I’m not going to pull out my phone and click on 5 screens to turn off the light when I could just flip a switch. But I will say “Siri, I’m going to bed” to turn off half the lights in my house at once. Minimal UI’s are good. Invisible UI’s are glorious.
- Have a focused purpose. You do you. I don’t want to check my email on my dishwasher, and I don’t need my coffee maker to tell me the weather.
- Know your context. I don’t want to know about prices of toilet paper while I’m having dinner with my wife. But, if there is a sale on Cottonelle and I happen to be walking down the paper products aisle at the grocery store- awesome, that’s a win.
- Look good doing it. The latest generation of wearables and gadgets are not just functional, but stylish. We’re talking, designed by jewelry designers stylish. It’s not 1986 anymore, and the era of dorky computing peripherals is long gone.
We are unquestionably entering into a new era of connectivity. Smart homes. Lightbulbs with WiFi. High-security wine bottles. Fashion-forward bluetooth bracelets. It has been said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The next round of magic has arrived, and it is available for purchase. The question I will leave you with is, to what extent will we allow connected devices into our lives? Is there a limit to what we will connect to the internet? Is there a point at which it becomes too much?