Technological wishes of Generation Z

Source: WBA Alliance

WBA, in the latest Wi-Fi Global Congress invited some college students as part of their ‘WBA Juniors Panel’ to talk about what they want to see in technology from their point of view. I really liked the idea and it was good to hear their wishes and demands. Let’s see what they want and how far are we in fulfilling their demands.

I should mention here that there were a lot of points and discussions, my notes do not capture everything and may not be 100% accurate.

Cars: One of these young woman suggested that the cars should be intelligent and should have radars and other similar technologies in them so that they can stop hitting someone or not have any accidents.

My view: Most self-driving and autonomous cars that are being built have this technology wherein they can avoid accidents. Its probably not commercialised except for the high end cars. Here is an interesting video of Tesla Autopilot collision warning before accident:

Similarly Google says it teaches its cars how to handle the more fundamental aspects of unpredictable road behaviour instead of implementing specific directions for particular cases, like how to deal with a duck-chasing wheelchair rider.

Connected classes: Students still have to carry their bags to schools, colleges and universities. With all these new technologies why cant this all be online? Each student can have a tablet with all their coursework and depending on their style of learning there are lessons to suit them learning. Some students like to read more, some students like pictures, some mathematical equations. Similarly they should be able to learn and give tests from wherever they want.

My view: This is something that is already being done in a few places. There are a lot of online courses, etc. that are available but to do something in a systematic way, the education authority needs to get involved.

In US for example, some schools are telling the kids to watch Khan Academy videos at home and then do problems and exercises during school time. This way teachers can focus on helping the kids that are struggling to understand the concepts.

I worked with an Australian guy who told me that back in Australia there are quite a few people who live remotely (in the Outback’s) and quite a lot of people travel for months. As a result educational material is available online and even via post as there is poor connectivity in remote areas. Kids can go to the nearest test centres for their tests but otherwise everything can be done online.

Real Time Translators: It would be good to have some real time translators so that people can understand each other even if they are talking in different language.

My view: This is something that has been on the wish list of many operators for a long time. This advert from Cellnet back in 1997, predicting 2007, shows a real-time translation (2.55) of an English-Mandarin call.

Google has real-time translation but only in text, I think? Skype online translator looks pretty good. We are getting there.

Wish list for Smart Cities: The students were asked what one thing they want in their smart city. Here is a list with my views embedded:

· Access Education from anywhere
 My view: See my comments above regarding education.

· Wearable, they are too bulky. They should be smaller and be embedded in humans so they don’t have to carry credit cards, identity cards, Oyster cards
 My view: There are many companies working in this area and there is scope for improvement. Some companies are working on embedded electronics to solve this problem. Still a few years away.

· Everyday objects should be embedded with intelligence so they can make you aware if a marker cap is open or if the flower in pot is dying.
 My view: Internet of things (IoT) will someday solve a lot of these kinds of problems, along with smart and intelligent homes.

· Schedules should be automatically adjusted in case you oversleep
 My view: This is again a concept used in many videos to show that everything would be adjusted accordingly if you are running late or if there is a traffic, etc. It’s a difficult problem to solve holistically as there are many different apps, devices, companies, etc. involved

· Wearables that can make you alert of any issues and guide you somewhere safe or can ask ‘network of trusted strangers’ to help you
 My view: This one is difficult to crack. I like this idea of ‘network of trusted strangers’ but it would be a probability of trust. No one can guarantee something 100%.

· Hologram to help you with homework and advice you about jobs, etc — something like the hologram in Star Wars
 My view: The hologram part is the difficult one to solve but for everything else there are other options being developed like automated bots that can give guidance. Work in progress.

· Robots can deliver packages and there is no need for anyone to be home
 My view: Many different approaches are being taken. Amazon drone (it’s a kind of robot anyway, right?) for delivery, dropping packages near home or in the car, etc. Still not 100% fool proof. Lot of scope for improvement.

Games: Games should have points that can be used in real world.

My view: There are quite a few companies that are actually using games to solve real world problems. Maybe they can have points that work as cash or free coffees would be nice too!

AI connected to Social Networks: If someone has a problem that needs solving, social media can find someone near you and connect them. Someone needs a doctor for example and the right kind of doctor is nearby, the social network can guide the doctor to the patient.

My view: No reason why this can’t be done today but there would be quite a few challenges to solve, including privacy issues, payment issues and security issues.

Be able to communicate with people close to you: Even if you may not know them

My view: There are many apps for these things, the problem is that not everyone has the same apps. Is this something that can be part of technology? Can some app take advantage of device-to-device (D2D) technology in mobile for this? Or would it be some big social network like Facebook/Twitter that would capitalise on this?

Sharing your personal data: The final point that was discussed is how young people felt about sharing the data with government and social networks. The consensus was “We don’t care because we have nothing to hide” but at the same time its annoying to have targeted ads following you around.

My view: While many people are happy to share their data, they do not realise that it can easily be misused. Facebook for example has been in the news quite often for misusing your data for ads, etc. Other social networks do something similar. Insurance companies will be big purchasers of your social network information in future to calculate premiums.

Conclusion: It was refreshing to hear generation Z talk about what they would like to see in the future and as I mentioned above, we either have these technologies or are nearly there with commercialising them. Maybe we are not doing a great job in communicating these technological advances to these youngsters.