future of technology | a pov

This blog first appeared on experiencesutra.com

As a technologist, I am always urged to answer this question – What is the future of technology? A lot is being written on how the new future may look like and how soon that will dawn upon us. Some say that it is about reaching the target of 2billion internet users by 2020. Some say it is about more wearable devices and intelligent systems like IBM’s Watson.

“To me, the future of technology lies is enabling experience. You and your surroundings will be the platform through which that experience is delivered.”

Consider this: Imagine the year 2049. You are sitting on your couch that takes your body shape as you lean on it. You feel like soaking in mother nature from up close and at your thought your window glasses change the scene from a high tech modern city to a lush green next to a lake setting, room lighting changes to reflect the mood and your smart connected devices participate by playing sounds (birds chirping), breeze (air-con adjusts temperature and fan speed). Not only that your cloth respond by changing color (to a more floral outfit). You might have programmed your virtual assistant to dial in your partner to be with you at this moment and so you get a 3D virtual hologram face to face interaction with your partner right at that moment. In all this, technology is trying to create experience that is quite natural and which could be driven by you and your thought. This is the future of technology.

The future will be about deriving experience through technology. The term Experience Technology is born out of this concept. As the name suggests, it is any technology that could lead to conditions that evoke human experiences. Watching a 3D movie with dolby sound and in a large wrap around screen is an immersive experience powered by technology.

This isn’t entirely new. As author William Gibson says, “The future is already here. It is just that it isn’t evenly distributed”. We are at a powerful moment where technology is both the catalyst and mirror to change.

The seeds of experience technology have already been sown. They are around us in the form of :

  1. wearables that generate data about our lifestyle.
  2. sensors that collect data about our health.
  3. headbands that can recognise 8 different impulses.
  4. switchable displays.
  5. 3D holograms.
  6. programmable environments (lights, sound etc.)

The day is not far away when your calendar will realize that an important early morning meeting is cancelled and communicates to the alarm to wake you up half an hour later.

“Is experience technology limited to lifestyle experiences? It isn’t, it never was.”

As I write this, somewhere on this planet, the future of mankind is evolving as technology is making a huge positive impact in other fields like medical sciences. Currently, with our understanding of human bodies and our ability to program our genome we are creating nano robots that will heal our body automatically. Scientists are researching on how to train our brain to view, hear or respond a completely different signal from a different sense than it has been used to.

We want a world in which deaf people can hear through eyes and blind can see with their ears. Experience then becomes more than just human and becomes humanitarian.

Recently in China, a boy whose eyes were gouged out in an attack has been fitted with an electrical device that enables him to visualize images and walk unaided. Mind-controlled prosthetic devices plugged directly into the brain seem capable of restoring some self-reliance to stroke victims, car crash survivors, injured soldiers and others hampered by incapacitated or missing limbs. At the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab, researchers are creating prosthetic devices that feel and act like biological limbs. Those limbs have computers, sensors and muscle-like actuator systems that enable movement.

When experience technology start touching lives in most humane ways, brands too will be drawn towards it. We are at an incredibly exciting stage where story telling is marrying technology. The new breed of marketers understands the power of experience which is enabled by technology to create a ubiquitous and omni-channel experience.

Think about a day when a marketer could directly plant messages through a neural connection – or program something directly to be used for sight, ear etc. Tomorrow, an app could be written for you specifically based on your interest for your exoskeleton.

As a technologist, my vision is to impact the lives of millions of people and create experiences that are unique and endearing. It is not about technology alone. It depends on our ability to envisage the changing patterns of human experience.

Deriving the intangible from the tangible needs a mindset. You will be part of the change if you have a mindset that appreciates the trivial and draws inspiration from the usual, natural and the mundane.

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