Technology develops rapidly. Thanks to Moore’s law – or the observation that computing power doubles every two years – humanity has seen leaps in technology on a scale never before seen in history. Some technologists are predicting that technology is nearing exponential growth in the next few decades which will revolutionize the world in more ways than we can possibly imagine. All of that is speculation, well reasoned as it may be. But what we do know is that there are some technologies on the horizon that will change how we live, how we interact online, and how we do business online.
Future Tech Is Not Far Off
Of course, everyone knows civilization never met the expectations the media had for humanity by the year 2000. Unfortunately, people aren’t zooming around the planet in flying cars and relying on robots to take care of all of our chores. I would say we surpassed those trivial predictions. Having the whole of human intelligence accessible to anyone with an internet connection takes the cake for me.
But now that there are lots of players in funding research, development, and testing, we have an idea of what’s coming next. No one can say for certain if all of the new tech in development will become popular, but we know what’s coming. It won’t be long – say five to fifteen years – before we see the following tech changing our lives and the way we do business online.
This year at CES, wearable computing, or wearable tech, made its strongest push yet. It seems like wearable tech is itching to take off. As Olof Schybergson writes on Fortune, “the key tech battle of the current decade will be about things we wear.” He points out that we’re finding more and more technology “on our wrists, necks, ears and eyes.”
The fitness and sports industry appears to be driving the market of wearable tech. Nike’s fuelband and the service that utilizes all of the data it collects, Nike+, demonstrates an efficient and current way to take advantage of wearable technology. Users get access to all sorts of tracking and health information about their runs or their activities if they wear the fuelband. Other examples include snowboarding goggles which display technical information like speed, altitude, and location.
Wearable technology will no doubt make communication and data collection or analysis much easier for people and businesses. Companies are going to need to heavily market this new technology for it to take off, leaving agencies plenty of work in the future. There will also be a huge opportunity for discovering and developing useful ways to utilize the additional data that people will be able to glean from wearables. You can bet there will be plenty of inventions in the realm of wearable computing, we’re just hitting the tip of the iceberg now.
One future tech which deserves its own section is Google Glass. The wearable interactive pair of glasses is called Project Glass by Google and Google Glass by everyone else. This piece of technology has been released to developers, and in 2012, TIME Magazine marked it as one of the best inventions of 2012.
Why is Glass a big deal? Google is trying to link our connection to the web with our every day life, much like a smartphone does now. But Glass would be a more fluid, interactive, and easy to use connection to the web, social media, commerce, and anything else people use the internet for. We would no longer have to use another object as our access point to the interconnected world, but we would shift seamlessly into it.
This idea justifies calling Project Glass “the future of Google” as Peter Ha did on TechCrunch. Interacting online with an easy to use and non-invasive technology means sharing information – about our lives, the products we want or enjoy using, the businesses that we deal with, and anything else will become all the more easier. Technology like Glass only expands users interaction with the web and the data and services on it. This tech will amplify the time people spend connected and therefore increase the importance of having a solid online presence for any business.
Google once again gets another individual section for the work they’ve been doing on automated cars. This future tech has been a dream of people since the 1950s; I can’t think of any of those old “in the year 2000 this is how the world will be” prediction videos I’ve seen that didn’t have some sort of flying or automated car.Having automated cars on the road will incredibly speed up transit times, eliminate user caused accidents, improve efficiency, and give access to vehicles to those who currently cannot drive.
In terms of what it will do for business, as we become more connected you can bet that people will be online while their car drives their daily commute or whenever they run errands. Exposure to social media, apps, and commercial sites will increase as people spend more time online. There isn’t much else you can do to keep yourself entertained sitting in car. Like Glass – or combined with Glass – people are going to have a lot more time to be connected.
Future of Smartphones
When it comes to smartphones, future tech, and business, there are a lot of opportunities. Smartphones will continue to gain power and capability. Combined with augmented reality, people will be able to use smartphones to interact with what they can see with a digital interface on their phone. This can be great for seeing how a product would look in a certain area, or helping people get around, to find your business.
There’s the possibility that smartphones will come with holographic projectors or 3D screens. These could enable consumers to preview products and get a better idea if they want to purchase something or not. You can bet there will be a lot of opportunity for 3D content if this becomes the norm on future phones.
Other technologies like Near Field Communication (NFC) will no doubt be standard on every phone in the near future. This will enable people to consolidate how they make transactions and share information. Location-based ads are already a reality and as more people adopt more capable smartphones, you can bet the market for these services will expand. This will be great for small business and large ones.
Motion Control and Eye Tracking
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Leap Motion’s motion control technology and what it could mean for businesses and consumers. This technology will continue to improve. Who wouldn’t want to control their computer with just a few swipes of their hand? This will make browsing content and products much easier.
Combine motion control with eye tracking and browsing content on the web will be almost effortless. Eye tracking will enable another level of data to be collected about consumers and their habits. Advertisers will be able to learn the ideal placements for aspects of a website to get the most attention. This will no doubt improve the strength of online advertising, giving it another reason for a business to include online marketing in its growth strategy.
The possibilities for consumer interaction with your products or your content are almost endless. Imagine interacting with a 3D projection of a company’s product with your hands and your eyes. Consumers will have access to more information than ever while also having a never-before-seen ability to interact with it.
Augmented Reality (AR), or superimposing computer-generated info data over live and real images or video, has a lot of potential for smart phones and tablets. Consumers will be able to view how a product they may want to purchase will look in their home or any location using AR and a tablet or smartphone.
Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores can be transformed by giving customers direct access to all of the information they might need about a product. Lauren Drell provides a great example in her piece on Mashable writing, “Augmented reality is going to radically change the shape of commerce.” How? “AR could turn places as mundane as parks and airports into shopping destinations.”
The possibilities for virtual shopping are endless with augmented reality. Combine it with smartphones or technology like Glass and you have a recipe for easy shopping for any consumer.
The Future Is Bright (I Think So)
This is by no means an extensive list of the future tech that will be around us in the near future. But what we know is coming could, and likely will create all new industries and opportunities for agencies, online businesses, and brick-and-mortar shops. The future is looking great, even if we never get flying cars and fully automated kitchens staffed by robot servants.
How do you think future tech will change business online?