Living in a World of Big Data and Smart Things
Technology is rapidly changing the reality around us. The world of things is becoming much smarter, and with each passing year this trend will only gather momentum. Forget about ready-made solutions; forget about multi-year strategies. The word “traditional” is no longer on trend. Everything familiar that we have known for years will very soon cease to exist and objective reality will become distorted beyond recognition. The winners in this race will be the first to recognize and accept the new and rapidly changing state of affairs — a new reality driven no longer by production, but by intellect, not by the end product, but by an innovative idea for a product. And this is why the Internet of Things is now a trend that no technology company can afford to ignore.
Let’s take the fashion industry as an example. Imagine that you no longer need to buy a new dress. Instead, you now buy the design idea and print the dress yourself on a 3D printer. American Joshua Harris has already introduced the market to the innovative idea of a printer that not only substitutes for our home wardrobe, but also for our familiar clothes shops. Instead of tee-shirts and trousers, brands will produce semi-fabricated cartridges with accessories and fabric. And all you will have to do is go to the manufacturer’s website, select the item of clothing you want and print it on your home printer. When you get tired of the thing, you just “undo” it and create a new one for yourself.
From the huge workshops of textile factories and cumbersome warehouses full of finished clothing, the cycle will be reduced to just three elements: “person — software — machine”. Against this backdrop, the complete transition of many branches of the economy from offline to online is becoming inevitable. Ukrainian 3D designers are already using a service called Kwambio that enables any user to acquire and replicate their creations on a 3D printer. This designer uploads his work to the open platform, while the user buys the design he likes for subsequent 3D printing.
In 1998, the market monopolist Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photographic paper in the world. Could the bosses of Kodak have imagined then that just three years later people would abandon paper in favour of “digital”, that Kodak’s business model would disappear and the company itself would go bust? Hardly…
Analysts predict that by 2020, 30 billion home appliances will be connected to the Internet, rising to 50 billion 5 years later. We are on the brink of Industry 4.0, where the symbiosis of electronics and software will make every domestic device “smart”, able not only to perform a number of specified functions, but also to analyse the situation around it, accumulate data and produce ready-made solutions.
In tomorrow’s world, a “thinking” toaster will make your toast as you wake up and send a network request to your refrigerator to buy some more apple jam for the toast. All that will remain for you to do is to open the door to the courier. Though you may not even have to do this if your “smart” door is programmed to let the courier in itself. And when it’s not performing its household duties your toaster will independently access the network and download upgrades placed on the server by the manufacturer. You will never have to replace an old toaster with a new, more functional model — it will look after this itself.
Ukrainian designers have also managed to bite off their own “piece of the cake” in the “smart house” concept, having created a sensation on Kickstarter with Petcube — a gadget that enables you to observe and play with your pet via the Internet using a smartphone app. Another “smart” Ukrainian invention is the Branto remote presence robot. Built in the form of a sphere, Branto has cameras that provide all-round vision and picks up sounds and movements to monitor the security of your “smart home”. Another project that has not gone unnoticed on the international market is iBlazr — a portable flash that connects to a smartphone or tablet. It synchronizes with the device’s camera shutter to enable photography in dark conditions and eliminate the negative effects caused by incorrect lighting.
In the future, all spheres of life that can be digitized will be digitized: education, sport, healthcare… Pharmaceutical companies are already working on a Tricorder device combined with a mobile phone. The gadget will scan the retina of the eye, blood composition and exhaled air and, potentially, be able to identify any illness known to man on the basis of 54 biological parameters. The manufacturers promise to make the device affordable, thereby automatically making good quality healthcare affordable to the entire planet.
Software will change traditional industries beyond recognition. The world’s biggest taxi firm UBER does not own a single vehicle: it is just software. AirBnB does not own any rooms, but is perceived by everyone as the biggest hotel in the world.
Followers of the concept of technological singularity maintain that in the near future, technical progress will become so fast and sophisticated that it will be beyond human comprehension. How then should mankind itself change? Not very long ago, DARPA announced the creation of an implant that will act as a conductor between the human brain and the digital world. If scientists succeed in bringing their plans to fruition, the era of Mankind as we know it today will come to an end.
This combination of biological and digital information carrier will create a superman that is incomparable more intelligent, with an impeccable memory and the ability to “download” knowledge on any given subject. Classic higher education will completely lose its value and your university degree will mean absolutely nothing. Learning will consist of a continuous mix of educational computer programmes, electronic books, online lectures and practice. One successful example of a knowledge aggregator is the Ukrainian educational start-up Coursmos. By 2016, the platform already boasted over 36,500 courses and had attracted around 2,000,000 users. Operating within the new paradigm, Coursmos embraces virtually every sphere of knowledge, from cooking to business education.
Analysts predict that just 5 years from now, the IoT market will be worth $14.5 bn. And that figure will grow, opening up new niches for thinking innovators to apply their energies. It is no exaggeration to say that we stand on the threshold of fascinating times. The availability of information and the openness of technology and communication afford vast resources to anyone who is ready to invent and create, to produce something new or improve what is already there. Perhaps tomorrow you will be able to give the world some unique technologies for saving energy, resources and time — all of them so important in our age. There is no better time to start working on this than now. Welcome to the world of the future!”