I always enjoy catching trends at the annual Consumer Electronics Show—not so much to see the latest gadgets but to gauge progress and how these trends translate into the industries we follow.
Overall, the focus is shifting to user experience and interface. As the pace of technological change has accelerated exponentially—driven by seemingly unlimited capacity and data storage—the emphasis should be less about how fast, small and cheap the tech is but what it can do for people.
The Internet of things: With devices and machines big and small coming online, huge gains in productivity are now possible. The connected home is becoming more of a reality, but still not at scale. Currently there is little interoperability and not much focus on customer needs. Connected cars, on the other hand, are more feasible– from Google’s driverless car to the computer on wheels that is Ford, Lexus and others.
24/7 healthcare: The age of sensing is becoming more personal and seamless, with mostly unobtrusive sensors now able to monitor how we live, play and work. Remote healthcare is within reach, which brings new opportunities for sports performance, wellness and chronic disease. One of my favorite examples is the HAPIfork—an electronic fork that tracks when you’re eating too fast.
Content rules: What good is technology without content to make it relevant? We must continue to broaden our definition of content, from data and network connections to productivity tools, information and entertainment. As digital media expert Shelly Palmer noted, “Technology is ever more content-hungry.”
With increased mobility, platforms are priority: Nearly three billion people are connected to the Internet via mobile phones. Apps proliferate, but it’s the platform they run on that adds value. User interfaces and experiences matter most, and more attention will be paid to how we interact with machines and each other in a complicated, multi-nodal, networked world.
It’s easy to fall in love with the flashy new tech at CES, but I try to approach these trends as a behaviorist (after all, understanding behavior is what we marketers are all about). How will new technology change how we act and what we do? We’re just figuring that out now, but we can be sure there will be big changes.
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