The world is embarking on an IoT revolution that is already reshaping the future. With the dawn of Wearables 2.0, what does the future hold? It will change forever the interaction between people, technology and the wider environment. It will ultimately cause us to reassess the value chain in a data driven world, the benefits of social cohesion and can potentially address the complete failure of an economic system that is teetering on its last legs.
Last February, Ryan Kraudel (VP Marketing at Valencell) published a very interesting article about the next phase of wearables. He says it is not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning for wearables, and we could not agree more.
The IoT is not about more ‘Connected Products’
Those who suggest that the IoT is just a new name for the connected products of the past are wrong. Highly integrated, data-driven technologies working seamlessly together is new. Never before has such a wide variety of complex technology ‘just worked’ in an integrated way. OK, right now it still doesn’t quite do that! But it is coming. Apple are essentially the trail blazers for seamless integration. They have sat behind the technology innovation wave, allowed others to fail and then achieved the best in class for emerging technology at just the right point of maturity. They are, of course, masters of good timing.
What is exciting about Wearable Technology is that it is the gateway. An opportunity for smaller companies to invent and roll out high value technologies that work for people not against them. Unfortunately there are big challenges with creating seamless technology. The limitations of battery life, network latency and comprehensive integration are still very real and can ultimately frustrate the viability of new products, if they result in a compromise too far on things like form factor, functionality or ease of use.
On the dawn of breaking through the complexity
Right now, the technology itself still does not work. It is not integrated, reliable or seamless to the extent that we are unaware of it and can engage on our own terms. Of course the problem is that ‘seamless’ and ‘reliable’ across a myriad of sensors, processors, networks and interfaces is mind bogglingly complex and subject to huge technical challenges across every discipline of modern science and engineering. A wide range of stakeholders and vested interests are guiding and shaping the space to their own ends, a factor that can be easily overlooked. The IoT is evolving rapidly, but it’s not driven by any idea of common benefit to humanity. It generally finds niches of consumer value to exploit, one at a time.
It feels like the IoT has just happened. A ‘new’ buzz in the last couple of years, but the progress over the last 20 years has driven us towards this point in history, where we can say we have a ‘thing’. The connected world version 2.0 is starting now. The first generation of truly Wearable Technologies has played out and we have learned a lot. What we have seen in the last few years will have only passing resemblance to that which we will see in the next phase.
IoT is going to be revolutionary
So when will we get there? Well we are not sure where we are even going but according to Ryan Kraudel, we’re already seeing the early signs of the next phase. As we become more integrated and more connected, our broken economic system is increasingly a weak link and must eventually give way to a connected, equitable economy, where the notion of consumer electronics should yield to one of social technology and shared benefit. Technology will sink into the background, but will be far more powerful than it is now. People don’t want wearable technology, they just want beautiful clothes and effortless, functional technology. If they are seamlessly integrated – all the better. However, deeper than this is the need for them to connect with each other and hopefully a world of connected things will not forget to do that. It is only through making connection that we can enter a new age of empathy, understanding and compassion and steer humanity away from the brink.
By Jacob Skinner, CEO of NDP, Product Development expert.