Digital disruptions to Embed Technology into the Human Body and Emotions

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Wearable Technology

The whole of Silicon Valley is buzzing these days with noise around Apple’s iWatch and Google’s Glasses, which are due for release any time this year or early next year! The excitement is very legitimate as both products have huge potential to make human communication and processing more seamless. And it doesn’t stop there, as both Google and Apple are gearing up for whole new range of products in the near future, as Sergey Brin explained at a Ted conference that the current mode of portable communication and data processing devices (i.e. Smartphones) are not up to the mark and can get far better than this. At the same time Tim Cook (Apple CEO) consoled their worried investors, concerned about falling stock prices, with a strong indication of whole new range of products.

    This article is not about discussing features of Google’s Glasses and iWatch, but is more about analysing next wave of Silicon Valley product line for hardware, network and software i.e. let’s look at what exactly the future might hold when it comes to communication and information processing, based on earlier indications from industry experts & leaders, recent rumours and glimpses of upcoming product lines.

All indications are toward hardware embedding in the human body
Manufacturers and marketers have finally realised that the smartphones, tablets, and laptops are not the most convenient devices when it comes to carrying, using them for taking pictures or video, and on top of that they are under pressure to come up with new product lines to beef up their revenue and allay the threat of reducing product life cycles. All these factors in addition to recent advancement in core processors, voice, image, touch screen and semantic analysis might force big players like Apple, Samsung and Google to come up with a product line that can be easily carried and at same time naturally process audio and visual data. For example, Google glass with retina-focussed built-in camera with voice recorder can process images in one blink, instead of taking out a phone, switching it on, opening the camera app, focussing and taking the picture. Similarly a watch with built-in phone, music app, health indicators and voice recognition can easily replace phone, SMS, email, and social media activities! Another example is that Nike has launched a wristband to calculate your body mass index, calories burned, heartbeat, distance covered, height climbed etc. when doing exercise!

Sentiments are sexier than location when it comes to software!
Marissa Mayer said in her recent Bloomberg interview that the key to Yahoo’s potential success would be how cleverly they can cater to users’ interests, and this phenomenon is very prevalent in software companies. These days whole focus is to build software that can capture human intentions, emotions or sentiments and translate those to render information in the desired way. For example, Wii build a game that can sense your body movement to help you build your exercise regime. Samsung is about to introduce an eye-scrolling technique where phones, tablets or computer screens can detect eye movements and scroll from top to bottom to left to right! Amazon has launched a price comparison app which can detect a product image and find the best price around the web. Apple’s Siri and Google’s Voice are a step towards voice processing, where your smart devices can detect your voice and execute subsequent commands from sending text to taking pictures to calling a friend! Twitter with Nielson and Blufin Lab might introduce TV ratings based on people’s sentiments on Twitter, rather than just based on their voting or viewership patterns!
And to bring all this data together, cloud computing (i.e. storing data at one central place) is coming in handy too so that software platforms (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon cloud, Dropbox etc.) with cloud-enabled services are processing all these human emotions and storing centrally. Fortunately or unfortunately this also creates an opportunity for hackers to reinterpret and render data to a vast range of interested parties!

Problem might be battery life, networking and software readiness?
I know all this sounds very cool, but there are a number of challenges before we can have an ideal device embedded into our bodies, with all features to understand and render what we are thinking, what is happing around us and our family and friends, as currently such devices run out of battery very quickly, software doesn’t reflect the exact sentiments and finding the right network with bandwidth in remote or less commercial areas is still a mission!

Conclusion:
I don’t want to paint a fancy picture of a singularity where we will have a chip inserted into our bodies before, or soon after, birth to enable us to store and process terabytes in seconds (like a computer) and communicate like a phone and capture images or video (like cameras) and process voice like microphones,

but if we look at recent hardware and software advancements, they all relate to improving core processors, image, voice recognition, semantic analysis, making information available everywhere and rendering devices portable and capable of sensing body movements.

Therefore I don’t think we are very far from having a device that can, with the help of smart software and cloud storages, easily tag onto our body and help us to do what we can do with the help of smartphones, cameras, voice recorders, and /or tablets and computers. There will be challenges, like fuelling energy to these devices, finding common protocols to communicate data to various points and immaculate software to interpret human sentiments, but these issues are getting huge attention within and outside of Silicon Valley, and sooner or later they will be resolved. Overall the technology alignment with the human body and emotions is natural progression and inevitable!

Formula for Future Tech Development Might looks like below!

Core Processors * Moore Law + Cloud+ Semantic Analysis + Image/Video Recognition + Siri + Body Sensors =Human (Tech) Body

 

Is it really mobile vs. social or mobile + social = commerce?

As soon as the black Friday commerce data was published with a thumbs up to mobile commerce and a hard beating to social commerce, people started doubting all the hype surrounded social commerce! In a way this thrashing can be justified, as businesses are now expecting significant return on investment after spending substantial amounts of money on social media marketing, from paying consultants to running guerrilla campaigns to engaging people via this medium.



Black Friday Commerce Stats

On the other hand, an introduction of smartphones and tablets has hugely boosted the mobile commerce numbers and if you believe the pundits, by 2015 every 3rd online transaction will happen via mobile device and every second offline buyer will check goods prices on a phone before buying it in the shop!



And as a result of this, every online and offline retailer is vigorously competing to introduce apps with all the latest technologies, such as voice recognition, Image and barcode scanning, to win mobile-savvy customers and to support mobile payments; meanwhile, all remittance suppliers are surging ahead with one-click mobile payment technology!

Which means, if John Smith wants to buy a tie he’s just seen in a magazine or website, he will scan that on his phone to check best available price and buy in one click to be delivered next or same day to him! i.e., the convenience at the best for price sensitive customers!!

So the question is – in this mobile and app commerce world, where does the social commerce fit, or is there any room for the social-verse when all swords are out for Social ROI? And the answer is – definitely social commerce is going to prevail due to simple reason that, we gradually start spending more of our online time on social media networks,those have become our second point of contact when we are watching TV, dinning at restaurants, shopping at mauls or even spending time with friends.

However, there will be a transition, or perhaps it’s already happening, from finding information (or products) on social media to eventually buying the product from that medium! Currently even social media networks from Facebook to Twitter to Google+ to Pinterest are positioning themselves as information gateways, so that when it comes to finding the best shopping trends, images, ratings and reviews, many look at their social universe but still buy on at non-social network platform ranging from Amazon to eBay.And for businesses social media is the place to collect data as thousands of people around many platforms are talking and sharing views continuously about their products!



I think the next stage would be, or perhaps already is, that we will be able to buy desired products from purely social networks rather than using them just as pre- and post-sale discovery tools.


However, I am not a firm believer in an app economy i.e. I don’t believe that apps running on social media will be the main tool of its transition from discovery to transaction tool.


But, if Facebook, Twitter and especially Pinterest can become pure marketplace for both suppliers and consumers, yet maintain consumer privacy and business identity, than they have a winning formula.
And, to a certain extent, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Pinterest brand pages, widgets and APIs are gradually building social interest and knowledge, and professional graphs, which are the right steps in social commerce directions, where both businesses and consumers can interact and know each other. However transactions with payment are still a stumbling block as these networks don’t have their users’ credit card info, which means that to make payment on social networks, both suppliers and consumers needs to seek third party help.

I think here Apple, Amazon or eBay, with millions of consumers’ credit card details, are in very advantageous position, and if they somehow manage to amalgamate social media to their platforms, then we have winner too! But Apple, with Ping, has already burnt their hand in this area – eBay is currently going all image driven (like Pinterest)– results are yet to be seen! And Amazon reviews remain one of the most prominent places to find product information, but not the place to hang out with friends!

Overall even, if we know the winning formula for Social Commerce is eBay + Facebook, there are still a few very hard yards to cover to reach this stage. We all know that just as we don’t hang out with friends in shops and don’t buy goods in restaurants or bars, it would be a humongous task to mix social and ecommerce sites, but I am sure we are not far now from a time when we will have the technology to mix these two, leaving buyers’ privacy and business identity intact. And while this transition will take place, mobile will become (or has already become) the prime device to find and buy products and services. Which means the formula for successful monetisation would be mobile device + social network = commerce!