The best way to predict the future is to invent it. At least that is what every company at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is trying to do. As I followed and tracked the announcements and blog posts about new products at CES, I couldn’t help but notice how almost all of them connect to an iPhone and/or Android Phone and are some form of wearable tech or home tech.
What this tells me is how smartphones are becoming an even more central part of our lives. They’re replacing our wallets, light switches, and keys. We can use them to control our thermostats, TVs, ovens, alarm systems, washing machines and dryers. We can even connect them to wearable devices that monitor our activity, inactivity, and sleep.
With larger screens, more powerful processors, and faster internet connections, smartphones are quickly replacing many things we used to do on our computers, such as browsing the internet, connecting to social media, and shopping. As the iPhone was being conceived, I wonder if Steve Jobs caught a glimpse of the future and realized how it would truly change the world, or has it advanced beyond even what his genius mind could conceive at the time.
Either way, our futures are becoming more intimately tied to our mobile devices. Some of these new features are more novel than useful, but most are poised to transform the way we live our lives. The following are the top five ways that I see mobile technology impacting our future lifestyle:
1) Payments – NFC (Near Field Communication) chips are becoming standard in the latest smartphones and smart watches. Combined with services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, we can now pay for things with both. Will the service completely replace Credit/Debit cards? Probably not. Credit/Debit cards didn’t completely replace cash, but they sure became ubiquitous. I see the same thing happening with services such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. I hardly ever carry cash with me anymore. As more retailers adopt NFC reading tech into their Point of Sale systems, the less I will need to use a physical credit/debit card. With some states also adopting digital driver’s licenses, it’s likely that someday I won’t need to carry a wallet at all. Of course, just as some people still carry cash, some people will always carry their physical wallets. I just won’t be one of them.
2) Keys – Frankly I hate carrying around keys. They are bulky, heavy, and I seem to need at least ten keys to manage the various locks in my life. Yet, I lose my keys all the time. If I could use my smart phone to lock and unlock my car, house, office, locker, safe, and any other type of lock, my life would be better off. Not only can smartphones now lock and unlock things in close proximity to the lock, but they can alsodo so remotely, completely getting rid of that “Oh, crap. Did I lock the front door?” feeling. You can even start your car just by having your phone in your pocket or purse. Pocket manufacturers better beware. Without wallets and keys, the demand for pockets is going to dramatically decrease. Well, except for the pocket needed for our smartphones. 🙂
3) Controls (Home Automation) – Thermostats, TVs, garage doors, alarm systems, lights, security cameras, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, fireplaces, window shades, and pretty much anything else that can be digitally controlled will be replaced or augmented with mobile apps. Not only will the controls be on our smart devices, but smart devices will allow for much more control and customizability. Refrigerators will remind you when you’re close to running out of milk and automatically put it on your grocery list. Oven apps will guide you through a recipe and cook it to perfection. Additionally, proximity will automatically activate controls for things like lights, garage doors, and alarm systems. For example, lights will automatically switch on when you come home and turn off when you leave.
4) Smart Watches – I haven’t worn a watch in years. Why? Because, I can check the time on my phone. So, why am I so excited for the Apple Watch to come out? Because it will have apps. And those apps will be unique and connected to an array of sensors including an accelerometer, GPS, altimeter, and heart-rate monitor. It will also act as a quick way to interact with apps on my iPhone, such as messaging, notifications, and driving directions. Smart watches will become a commonplace extension of our smart phones. Besides being able to make phone calls and text message, smart watches will also act as a way to pay for things, open and close locks, start cars, and control our homes. Additionally, they will be able to tell us how healthy we are by tracking our activity and various biometrics.
5) Wearables – I put wearables in a separate category from smart watches because they are so much broader in scope and because smart watches are going to be a very large category in and of themselves. But, for all intents and purposes, a smart watch is a wearable. Anyway, wearables have been a buzzword in the tech industry for a few years now, but only recently have we seen some useful, marketable, affordable wearable products. I still think they have some growing to do before being adopted en masse, which is why they are number 5 on my list and not number 1. In the near future, any item of clothing (footwear, head wear, accessories, etc) may become a wearable device with sensors to not only track movement, but to help you move better, feel better, capture the moment, and/or interact with your other devices.
The future of mobile technology looks very bright. In fact, I believe it will be the focus of most new tech for the next 5 to 10 years. It will not only transform our personal and home lives, but our work lives as well. With companies like IBM partnering with Apple to develop beautifully designed enterprise apps, mobile devices are quickly becoming the center point of every part of our lives.
Now is the time to join the movement with your creative mobile app idea. Contact Fresh Consulting today to discuss how we can partner with you to create a beautifully designed app that your customers will love.