In many ways the Internet provides a platform which aggregates data from content providers and adds a user friendly, consistent presentation layer for easy consumption.
Information is created and published online; it is indexed and sorted, manipulated for various devices and then remains there to be consumed at our leisure.
This content has different purposes. Some is for instant consumption, such as news stories or celebrity gossip. Some is transactional, ordering anything from food to a car. Some is information to be used elsewhere, such as the best route for a journey, a recipe or instructions for repairing an appliance.
Clearly this is something of a simplistic view, but whether it is corporate web sites, e-retailers or news brokers, the concept is true.
At the core of digital transformation has been the concept of anytime, anywhere and any device. To meet this demand content providers have been tailoring their output to be optimised to the device. In parallel these devices have been becoming smarter and more connected, giving us the beginnings of the Internet of Things.
I say beginnings, even though this phrase and concept has been around for a few years, because this could really just be the beginning of a seismic shift in our digital world.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…..
Recently, Panasonic showcased a prototype smart make-up mirror.
(http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-09/05/panasonic-augmented-reality-mirror) This interactive mirror creates an augmented reality view of your face as you sit before it, not just a replica mind, but an analysed version with associated data about skin tone, blemishes, wrinkles and probably a lot more. The user can then start to experiment with different make-up products, not just changing the colour of a generic section of the face, but applying the textures in as well. The mirror also uses the data it’s collected to suggest various treatments to address skin concerns, provide one-click ordering for the best products to treat them and play back any changes over time.
Let’s extrapolate this concept a little bit further. It would not be a huge leap for the mirror to extend its version of you to full body and tie in with some high street retailers and hairdressers to provide a complete make-over in seconds, with the ability to order there and then and await your drone delivery. One step further could be your mirror analysing you in the morning and deciding what you need and ordering it on your behalf.
Once the concept of devices using, what was once content we browsed on the internet, data straight from the providers, then our world of smart devices can transform.
Take the humble fridge, already today they can be internet connected and have apps which allow us to browse for recipes or leave virtual notes for our families. What if these smart fridges talked to our smart mirrors? Our mirror can analyse our skin or body shape and based on research could recommend certain food types or maybe just more water, it could then collaborate with our fridge to find appropriate recipes based on our eating habits (the fridge knows everything we put in it) and order the ingredients for a time when we will be in, because they also talk to our smart phone which manages our diary.
The Rise of the Machines
Speaking of our fridge, it could collaborate with our central heating and other energy devices to map our consumption. It could then switch plans automatically to minimise our cost or even trade on our behalf after its careful management led to a surplus. Switching accounts and trading could also have a big impact on our financial decisions; my smart devices know pretty much my spending habits and have access to vast amounts of research on the markets, bank accounts and other investments. All of this vast content which is carefully curated and presented on the internet could be accessed directly from the source, analysed in seconds and accounts switched on a daily basis as they benefit me.
It doesn’t all have to be digital, let’s go back to our smart heating system. It could detect that pressure is being lost at a specific valve in the network and access the manufactures system to find the likeliest solution, which in this case turns out to be a replacement valve is needed. It collaborates with my 3-D printer and creates a new valve, it then gets the raw information from the manufacturer and sends the fitting instructions to my e-reader, which is already tailored with the presentation layer that suits my eye-sight and preferences, and in turn is modified based on analysis from my smart mirror that morning about how my eyes were bloodshot.
These are just some examples that occur to me; even writing this I can think of 20 more, but it is the concept that interests me. A large amount of content on the Internet is for me to use with another device than the one I used to get to it, so why not cut out the middle man and let my smart devices get on with it?