As millions of people have integrated mobile into every aspect of their lives, much of our daily activities and associated tracking are now housed inside of the smartphones in our pockets, purses and hands. It is no secret that there has been an explosion of services leveraging this new area of connectivity. The next step in the mobile evolution is moving information, decision making and functionality off of our smartphones and into the world around us. Many consider this concept to be well summarized in the term, ‘Internet of Things,’ a plethora of connected devices that exist in the background of our lives to do our bidding, provide our connectivity, manage our temperature, unlock our door, give added layers of visibility into our world, and more.
Internet of Things — Unique Capabilities & a New Interface for Interaction
Recent innovations in this area include voice-activated devices and new forms of wearable technology. Voice-activated devices, like Amazon’s Echo, use natural language processing to understand thousands of commands and respond in turn. In fact, the Echo features a smartphone user interface while also providing its own set of capabilities. When a person commands Alexa to play a song, the music either streams from a connected smartphone, or directly through the Echo via Amazon Music.
Similarly, wearable technology offers a two-fold value proposition — an extension of the smartphone, and its own native capabilities. For example, the Apple Watch can alert a wearer to an incoming call — via Bluetooth connected to an iPhone — while tracking a wearer’s activity. Wearables can also cut down on the overwhelming noise associated with the notification experience on smartphones. I can prioritize and filter alerts, notifications, and information, creating a more streamlined experience.
Data Powers Convenience & Choices
Millions of people are using wearables to track their sleep, steps, food, temperature, heartbeat and more, generating a huge amount of data. And while some track for the sake of tracking, many are starting to see how they can mine this data for valuable insights. The space is now saturated with companies founded on the promise of providing users with customized recommendations based on their behavior data. This has presented a new challenge for us as users, to decipher between well-targeted generic suggestions and truly personalized information.
For brands, the aggregation of all of this data provides the means to create a digital identity of our behaviors, choices and actions. With the proper analysis, companies can influence messaging — timed at the right moment — to impact a person’s behavior. The implications of this influence are huge, including the ability to improve someone’s quality of life, greatly impact purchase decision, and nudge users to make seemingly small daily decisions that can sum to meaningful change in their lives.
A Seamless Experience
The next frontier for wearables and IoT technology is in development, as the appetite for moving beyond convenience to utility grows stronger every day. Our days of relying on one device — our smartphone — to coordinate and control our lives are in short number. In the near future, smart devices on our wrists, fingers, ears, and in our clothing will make it possible for us to pay, enter locked spaces, validate our identity, communicate, and more. Contextual actions and recommendations will be based on large amounts of data from our personal lives as well as thousands of others’ lives. We are rapidly moving away from a world dictated by our experience on one screen to a world where the experience lives around us, providing a new level of convenience and access.