As the era of experience economy dawns upon us – consumer technology disrupts many businesses. I had delivered a keynote on experience technology and its space in future. here is a slide share:
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 :
- wearables that generate data about our lifestyle.
- sensors that collect data about our health.
- headbands that can recognise 8 different impulses.
- switchable displays.
- 3D holograms.
- 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.
How do you build experiences? Is the architecture any different? is the mindset different? how do you prototype and build out new age experiences.
Leadership to me is defined by three most important attributes:
A leader has to be authentic in their approach towards people, matters and situations. It is imperative to command respect that you have original ideas and thoughts but most importantly you also have a style of your own. Many folks may or may not like it but I believe it is imperative to have a style that you can call your own.
Leadership is as much about inspiration as it is about expertise. A true leader stands for something, they should lead from the point of expertise and not necessarily general best practices. Expertise is the only way in which you can lead smarter folks (in many cases smarter than you), you can probably understand their POV and most likely add value to their thoughts and ideas. Expertise could also be a connecting the dots expertise, where in you can bring together a bunch of different expert skills together provide it a specific direction and turn the sum total into a beautiful piece of product/service/art.
Risk taking ability:
True test of leadership is when you have to stand up for your people, your values and your preachings. A leader would put his neck on the line in making the decisions that needs to be made, but would not vouch for the credit undue. In my experience, leadership can be earned just by exemplifying this one characteristic in situations where team looks up to decision making, decisive outcomes and predicting success and glory in the face of uncertainties.
Data, Big Data, Small Data and Science to find meaning, knowledge nuggets from this massive amount of information is the sexiest job of 21st century according to a leading publication. Circa 2005, web 2.0 bustling with energy and ideas gets a massive thumbs up from millions and millions of people by joining the bandwagon. As the Social media took center stage by 2007 and Modern mobile devices became a rage, user generated content took center stage. Internet Content created by people dwarfed the Content that was created by centralized entities (corporates, governments and institutes).
Circa 2010, machines joined internet revolution – now the machines (IOT surge would mean the machines will continue to rise in numbers) that connected to internet outnumbered the people that were online. A new kind of data, content and knowledge is being created. But more importantly, a lot more of data is being created. This led to a new web paradigm – web 3.0 – semantic web, an internet that could contextualise, personalize and filter through the noise and provide people with what they wanted.
Fundamentally, new generation that leaves their valuable data online, with their favorite brands expects that this data would be used to create meaningful experiences for them. Experiences, that are personalized to individual needs, contextualized to their environment, and suited to their needs and wants.
Thankfully, the internet giants haven’t been busy just gathering your and mine data but has also been developing technologies and solutions to solve our problems. One such advancement has been through “Big Data” platforms. There has been a surge in new and reinvigorated interest in Databases, Processing technologies, Distributed computing platforms, Data Science and Machine learning algorithms in helping solve the problem of mining the “intelligence” from this massive data that we create and consume on everyday basis.
Data Science helps us find answers, look through the signals to cut out the noise to get to meaningful events, intelligence that could give us beautiful insights, knowledge nuggets about the world, our interactions with the wold an insight into our behaviour that (even) we might be unaware of (consciously). We are at a tipping point in information revolution, now we move from “discovering the intelligence” to “mastering the intelligence”. You can see the glimpses of that future in science fiction movies – minority report, HER (one of my favorite future prediction).
Have you ever been asked: “What is your passion?”
I am sure that question has been posed to you at every step of the life – when you were a student, professional or whenever you found life and career started to stagnate. As a student – i had so many things going for me, so many things that excited me and yet i didnt really know what is it that i was passionate about ? what interested me the most? I would think that i am yet to find my passion – not everyone is lucky to find it early enough in life. Interestingly (but not surprisingly), these problems are similar to data problems – we always learn and derive from our life experiences. A student has to rely on his “Data Science” skills to cut the noise – his model of making sense is very different from the model that a professional builds for himself when he is looking for the right Job. But we all are using “Data Science” to walk through a maze – all the time, trying to derive from all that we have gathered (data as experiences) right through our lives.
There are so many examples in dailylife that we play data scientist – a parent goes through barrage of data to select a right school for their kid, we are always analysing our friends behaviour – in fact many a times predicting their reactions to situations. In short we are all always using some form of Maths, Stats and Algorithms to solve our every day lives – but fail to recognise that, in many ways thats a fault in the way we have been or are being taught these subjects (dont want to even start on this).
My humble submission here is that “Data” problem is not for selected few, it is for all of us – like Technology became essential way of life, professional life – data would becomes significantly more important, so we all need to recognize that and make peace with it. Adopt Data and the Data Scientist with in, use it for your advantage.
When you have focus problems and need continuous distractions as a means to focus back on your mainstream work – you end up answering a lot of questions for yourself. Let’s say that I am able to do that for myself.
I have always asked myself a question – why would anyone have the need to leave their footprints (not literally) on this world? I have been fascinated by sumerian tablets, to cave wall paintings to ancient writings (scribblings mostly) and now facebook walls (check-ins, broadcasted messages in form of status updates and so on). As a society why do we do so ? share moments? why have we tried to tell stories, leave hints (whichever way like it?)
Few weeks back i happened to watch “Lucy” the movie while i loved the imagination and the concept i didn’t fall in love with the movie (it was an average overall watch in my opinion). I carried a couple of interesting imaginative scenes from the movie though and i kind of think about the possibility of bringing those solutions to life. here is one such concept (as shown in movie):
(what you see in this picture are connections between mobile devices and satellites – in other words visualised data streams – isn’t this beautiful?)
However, that movie helped me find the connection and answer the question for myself – that entire universe and all organic life came to be because it wanted to spread (big bang, evolution of complex organisms from single cell organisms and so on), transfer the knowledge that it has (gene transfer mechanism) — that idea (if you come to terms with it) to me is such a fundamental truth to our existence (if we believe in it, that is). More i think about it, its a good hypothesis – most importantly helps me answers the question for me. It has also helped me answer other corollary questions like : why do we believe in stories ? why have we always told stories (to pass on the knowledge?)
You could argue that in computing field why would i care?, why would this bother me? The answer to that is that it is important to answer (may not be an accurate answer) simple questions to move on – human brain is complex (lets just leave it at that). However, there is a logical reasonable answer as well – today, you don’t look to solve the problem by boxing it as a “computing” or “economic” or “health related” problem. Think about it – you would ask, whats the problem ? how do we solve for it would be decided based on what it takes the problem to be solved (that most likely means a combination of multiple domains – multiple disciples coming together). So, knowing more about our social structures, human behaviours enables us to solve complex problems that we want to solve today.