Future of Technology

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Future of Mobile Commerce

Survey taken by Global E-commerce Professionals

Mobile Commerce is the buying & selling of goods and services through the use of wireless handheld devices. Mobile commerce can easily apply to a range of technologies that are available on touch devices and it is a form of next generation E- Commerce. According to Juniper Research, the value of mobile commerce transactions is expected to top $3.2 trillion by 2017. [1]

Mobile commerce is considered beneficial because it allows for tailored, on the go information, and it gives convenient access to business & services. Handheld devices such as tablets & cell phones follow users wherever they go, making it possible to look for restaurants nearby, keep in touch with coworkers and friends, or to simply pay for items at a store. For businesses, the use of mobile commerce has proven to be good for generating revenue since it creates opportunity to deliver new services to existing customers and to attract new customers through its broad reach.

Visual Commerce

With the rise of mobile commerce, there has been a trend towards increasing the use of Visual Commerce. Visual commerce focuses on the user experience and generating visually appealing images for the customers. With companies focusing on a more image-based strategy for engagement, there has been an increase of up to 21% in user engagement and conversion rate. There has been a trend towards the discovery of new products via user generated photos. Social Media apps such as Pinterest, Instagram & Snapchat have set a trend towards visual data and mobile commerce. Furthermore, there has been added pressure to create more engagement through visual content that conveys a story about a product or service. Engagement is key as we continue to see shorter and shorter attention spans for users in the form of advertisements. [2]

People HATE UBER?!

Service Based Apps

Service based apps offer a form of convenience in Mobile Commerce as users focus on impulse purchases through apps such as Uber and Cover. Uber is an app that connect riders to drivers, breaking away from traditional urban transportation as a whole. Uber is a good example of disruptive mobile commerce, especially in the traditional taxi sense as it offers convenience, lower rates, and it is user-focused. Furthermore, mobile commerce apps have also been created for faster, convenient, and impulse dining.

Cover is a payment app that streamlines dining out experience and allows users to conveniently dine out without the frustrations of paying bills. This trend with the mobile device at the center shows a trend towards a “digital wallet” within the constantly evolving smartphone itself. [1]

Mobile Wallet

According to CitiBank, consumer trends say 80% believe the smartphone will replace cash and credit cards by 2020. Furthermore, there has been a trend towards what is known as Money 3.0 which focuses on the “digital wallet” to replace the standard, paper and coin transactions.

One form of Money 3.0 comes with the use of Apple Technologies “Apple Pay”. Apple pay offers users a convenient way to pay using Near Field Communication in their new iPhone 6. Users may pay with their touch ID by simply pressing and holding their iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID. This form of convenience offers users security, greater privacy, lower risk, and an overall better user experience. Some concerns circulate around the availability of NFC technology with shopping centers and traditional pay terminals, which may be slow to change. [2]

Future is Near

The future trend of Mobile Commerce focuses on Visual Commerce with Mobile Image Recognition Technologies has been gaining momentum. One such technology focuses on Snap to Buy with mobile image recognition. This will allow users to simply take a picture of a popular article of clothing and through image search recognition, they may be directed to a site of purchase. Google is one company which has been focusing on search engine optimization and “snap to buy” for mobile commerce. According to Stephen Shepherd, general manager of LTU Technologies, “Already, mobile visual search is being used by retailers in Asia and Europe for targeted m-commerce applications, and within three years, we will see rapid adoption of this technology by U.S. retailers.” Another trend has been utilizing augmented reality for the “window shopping” experience for users. For example, ICE Jewlery is one such company which has focused on creating an app where consumers may “try on” their jewelry virtually. [3]

Mobile Commerce Threats

Barriers to Mobile Commerce

Although Mobile Commerce has been growing rapidly, there are concerns with users which may limit its adoption or hinder its growth potential. For example, one issue revolves around security. Many consumers have fears that their devices would be attacked by viruses, resulting in personal data and banking information at risk. According to one survey by Baynote, users felt more comfortable making purchases and buying decisions through their desktop computer, as there was a sense of familiarity and security in a home setting. Furthermore, according to the survey, users felt privacy could be compromised by purchasing in public versus in a private home setting. This is why people felt more secure buying from sites where their buying data is already stored. In light of all these user issues, companies are beginning to invest in the use of Biometrics, from voice recognition to fingerprint scanning to increase security and protect users in paving the way for more secure mobile transactions.

Another issue users are concerned with is screen size. In the traditional E-commerce sense, laptops and desktop computers offer users larger screens in comparison to a mobile device. Smaller screen sizes offer inability to get a good look and “feel” for the product. Unless a buyer is familiar with a product or its appearance, users are hesitant to buy an item on a smartphone. However, users are more likely to purchase with a tablet than they are with a cellular device. To resolve this issue, future technology towards the use of holographic technology and larger screen sizes could offer a solution. Finally, users worry about connectivity and purchasing as they may be cut off in the middle of an e-commerce transaction. [4]

Future of Transport Technology

Driving Habits

A survey was recently conducted by the NHTSA, and drivers admitted to participating in the following activities while behind the wheel. [5]

  • Texting (61%)
  • Email (33%)
  • Web Surfing (28%)
  • Facebook (27%)
  • Selfie/Photos (17%)
  • Twitter (14%)
  • Instagram (14%)

As the level of automation increases, the level of human involvement decreases, all the way to the point where humans no longer need to be present in order for the vehicle to perform specific tasks or go to specific locations. In 2010, there were about 1.24 Million road crashes, with 30,000 of those occurring in the USA. 90% of all accidents were attributed to human error. [5] These are some of the alarming stats that have contributed to the accelerated development of driver assistance technologies.

Automated Driving Levels

Levels of Driving Automation
Level 4 Automation Demonstration

There are five levels of vehicular automation that are present in the market place, with only level four and five vehicles waiting for approval form the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA).

  • An example of a level 0 vehicle is one with no automation, such as no cruise control or any of the conveniences associated with modern vehicles.
  • An example of a level 1 vehicle is one which has some of the modern day conveniences such as cruise control or parallel assisted parking.
  • An example of a level 2 vehicle is multiple automated functions such as adaptive cruise control with lane centering assist. A driver is expected to be available at all times.
  • An example of a level 3 vehicle is one where the driver gives up control of critical functions during certain driving conditions such as highways. Example of this would be the current google self-driving cars that are on the road.
  • An example of a level 4 vehicle is fully autonomous control by vehicle, with no driver expected to be present or needed for emergency control.

The video on the top right is a demonstration of a vehicle developed by Volkswagen AG. It shows an Audi RS7 performance vehicle with level four automation. The vehicle was able to learn the optimal angles that were needed around the track so that the vehicle can finish in the fastest time. This not only demonstrates the ability of automated vehicles to navigate roads, but also their ability to do so in the most optimal manner.

Hyperloop

Hyperloop

The Hyperloop was originally hypothesized by Elon Musk. He referred to it as a “3-way between a railgun, Air-hockey table, and Concorde Jet”. He envisioned the Hyperloop as a means of speeding up transportation between Los Angeles and San Fransisco. As you can see from the infographic, the main components of the Hyperloop are components that are used in every-day technology today. At this point in time, the technology has successfully been tested, but only on a small scale. In June 2015, a one mile test track was announced to be built at the SpaceX and Tesla facility in Texas. (cite Article)

Technical Details [1]:

  • Downtown Los Angeles to San Fransisco in 30 minutes. An aircraft, as listed by several airlines, would take 1 hour and 19 minutes.
  • Gate-to-gate travel speed of Mach 0.91 or 1000 km/h (620 mph) . By comparison, gate-to-gate travel speed of an aircraft from LAX to SFO is Mach 0.33 or 410 km/h (255 mph).
  • Railgun: uses electromagnetic forces to transport objects at high speeds.
  • Air-hockey table: effective use of air flow and air pressure to reduce sliding friction to zero.
  • Concorde jet: supersonic transport.

Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

Vehicle communication systems involve a network type system where vehicles and roadside units communicate with each other to provide safety warnings and traffic information. Inter-vehicle communication systems are designed to allow different vehicles to communicate with each other. Vehicle to vehicle systems have trained traction as a way to avoid traffic congestions and reduce vehicular accident frequency in order to improve commercial road transport. [2] Annually, the commercial vehicle transport industry is worth $700 billion. There are approximately three million commercial vehicles on the road that are responsible for transporting 9.2 billion tons of goods across America. In order for inter-vehicle communication systems to gain traction, they must achieve critical mass, similar to social networks. When critical mass is achieved, it makes investments by developers and vehicle manufacturers. [3] The vehicle to vehicle communication initiative gained traction after a major train accident in 2005.

Business Implications

The implementation of autonomous vehicles that are increasingly removing driver control of the vehicles will have a disruptive effect on many industries. For car insurance companies, personal injury lawyers and autobody repair shops, their main source of business arises from human error in driving that causes collisions and accidents between multiple vehicles. [4] With the implementation of these technologies, human error and mistakes would be eliminated, resulting in decreasing revenue for these businesses. However, the transition or phasing out of these types of services would be very gradual because there will be a significant period where autonomous vehicles and human driven vehicles will co-exist. [5]

For governments, the lost revenue associated with licensing fees and parking tickets is also of concern. In the future, a vehicle can drop its passengers off at a particular location and simply drive away, either back to household of the original owner, or an offsite parking location that will have significantly reduced fees. [6] This will not only result in reduced parking ticket revenue, but it can also be a means of providing relief for sky-rocketing real-estate prices. This is an already hot button issue in the local Vancouver market. In terms of worker productivity, with the use of autonomous vehicles, employees would be comfortable living further distances away from work sites because their commute would no longer be considered dead time. Instead, workers can now use that commuting time to start working and remain productive. [4]

Benefits

Benefits

With the use of autonomous vehicles, passengers can experience many benefits. People would no longer experience the stress associated with driving vehciles and sharing the road with in-experienced and wreckless drivers.

Users of autonomous vehicles would be able to particiapte more readily in car sharing programs in order to reduce the costs associated with owning and operating a vehicle. One family could easily function using only one vehicle because with an autonomous car. Multiple family members could use the car without having to rely on a driver having to physically drive the car everywhere. [7]

Driver Health Monitoring

Driver Health Monitoring

There are many benefits that users can derive from using advanced vehicle technology such as driver health monitoring. Drivers and passengers can always know what type of health condition that the driver is in. They can learn of any impending health issues or difficulty that the drivers may face including low blood sugar for diabetics or trouble seeing at night due to driver astigmatism. With awareness of these issues, road users can experience a safer driving environment with a reduced risk of driver errors. [1]

This video on the right discusses the future of driver health monitoring in order to improve road safety and efficiency. Driver health monitoring involves analysing key health metrics of the driver in order to gauge their condition while driving. The motivation behind this type of technology is to reduce accidents and collisions, of which 90% of all are attributed to human error. [2] While watching the video, please reflect on the ethical and legal issues that can arise from monitoring companies and vehicle manufacturers having access to this type of driver information. How would this data be protected from exploitation, which types of users would have access to this information, and finally, what would be the appropriate uses for this type of information.

Issues/Concerns

There are many concerns and issues that will arise with the adoption of future car technologies. In terms of vehicle costs, some estimates suggest that driverless cars can cost upwards of $320,000. [3] This is more than some of the high end luxury sports cars in the market right now. This presents a huge problem in terms of achieving user adoption. However, some reports suggest that as time progresses, the cost of driverless vehicles will decrease exponentially. By 2035, an autonomous vehicle system is only expected to add between $3000-$5000 to the cost of any vehicle. This is a promising sign that complete autonomous car adoption is not far away. [4]

Unauthorized hacking and privacy breaches are also a main concern. In July 2015, Wired Magazine did a demonstration on Jeep vehicles that were prone to being hacked. [5] The vehicle in this report was able to be controlled remotely through the infotainment navigation in the dash of the vehicle. A flaw in the software allowed external users to access the vehicle through the internet. This brings to light the importance of securing autonomous and web connected vehicles because of the human safety element associated with it. We must remember, that the primary reason for development of autonomous vehicles is to improve road safety, but with hacking already being possible, car manufacturers and road users must reconsider whether their purpose is actually being achieved.

Future of Home Technology

Home Automation

Home automation is the use of computers, smart devices, and information technology to control home appliances and features in your home. By using a computer connected to the Internet, it will be possible to control vital home functions, such as lighting and heating, from anywhere in the world. In the past, home automation systems were primarily found in large commercial buildings and expensive homes since they were costly and complicated to use. However, the popularity of home automation technology in recent years has increased in the common household. New companies are constantly emerging in the industry and they have been developing innovative, yet affordable smart home technology. The increased usage of smartphone and tablets and the development of faster wireless networking technologies have simplified how home automation is done.

Examples of Home Automation

Smart Home

Innovative Home Automation Technology

Cube

Cube

German Studio The Family of the Arts designed an innovative alternative to controlling your smart home. The Cube, is a small black cube that can be carried around the house and be used to control nearby home appliances by simply placing it on any surface. It can be used to control lamps, shades, thermostats, and even speakers. The Cube's design is meant to compliment the way we live in the future home, while eliminating the complexity and anti-socialness they create. Cube can conveniently fit right into the wall, in place of where a lightswitch would normally be, to dock and recharge . Its interface is simple to learn and use since it works through a combination of just three gestures. Tapping the Cube on the table will turn it on, flipping the Cube on different sides will activate different functions, and twisting the cube left or right will throttle the controls. For example, a left twist would dim the lights, while a right twist will brighten them. It provides an effortless transition from macro and micro level control, which a smartphone app with a deep on-screen menu system cannot provide.

Cube is still in the conceptual prototype stage and has been unable to find a company to help bring the device to market. One of the drawbacks of the Cube is that its functions are limited to the six sides of the Cube. There may be an option in the future to have different functions available based on the room the Cube is currently in. [1]

Luna Smart Bed

Luna Smart Bed Cover

Luna is the world’s first internet-connected mattress cover that makes any bed smart. The mattress cover automatically sets the bed’s temperature, tracks quality of sleep, and can be integrated with other smart technologies. For example, Luna can be integrated with a Nest smart thermostat to automatically adjust the room temperature when it detects that you are awake. Luna allows you to set different temperatures for each side of the bed and can create a personalized schedule for bed temperature adjustments based on the user’s preferences. Sensors are embedded in the cover detecting breathing and heart rate to determine if you are about to sleep or just waking up. It also has accelerometers to track sleep patterns and sends all data to a smartphone app for the user. The smartphone can also be used as a remote to set your bed’s temperature ahead of time. [1]

Matteo Franceschetti, co-founder of Luna, had a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo raising more than $1 million. Another $1.3 million in funding from private investors was raised prior to the crowdfunding campaign. Franceschetti explains that the main reason for campaign was to connect with early users and get feedback on their product before it launches. Based on the feedback, Luna will focus more on Bluetooth connectivity and the security of their product. The company has already signed partnerships with other smart home devices to integrate their product with theirs. Luna is designed to slip over your mattress and is machine washable. Prices range from $199 to $229 depending on sizing and is planned to begin shipping in August 2015. [2]

Big Companies Enter Market

Google

Nest Thermostat, Nest Cam, Nest Protect

Nest: Google acquired Nest Labs for $3.2 billion on February 7, 2014. [3] Nest Labs is a home automation producer founded by iPod inventor Tony Fadell. The company designs and manufactures smart thermostats, smoke detectors, and most recently, security systems. In 2011, Nest Labs’ first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, was introduced. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns what temperatures the user likes and builds a personalized schedule for them. For example, the thermostat can turn itself down when the user is away or it can be higher during the winter season. The Nest app lets the user control the thermostat from their phone even when they are not home. It also has an energy-efficient away temperature that can help the user save energy and money. [4] In October 2013, Nest announced Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Nest Protect informs users of potential safety risks in a human voice and can tell the user which room the smoke or carbon monoxide is coming from. It will also send messages to your phone if the alarm goes off when you are away from home or if the emergency batteries run low. [5] Nest Cam was introduced in June 2015, along with the second generation of the Nest Protect. Nest Cam is a security system where you can see what is happening in your home from your smart phone. The system looks for motion and will send alerts to your phone if it detects something that stands out. Nest Cam is designed to be able to distinguish between insignificant motions, such as lights turning on or shadows, and something important, like a person trying to break in. [6]

Nest remained its own distinct unit within Google after the acquisition. With this move, Google officially enters the home automation market and gets a head start over Apple and Microsoft. Apple was also interested in acquiring Nest so it was a surprise when it was announced that Google snapped up Nest considering that Nest was founded by two former Apple engineers. [7] Apple announced that it removed Nest Learning Thermostats from its American online and retail stores one year after Google bought Nest. [8] According to Navigant Research, the smart thermostat market is estimated to grow to $1.4 billion by 2020. [3]

Brillo and Weave: At Google’s I/O conference in May 2015, they announced Brillo, their first operating system for the Internet of Things. Brillo is based on a stripped down version of Android that can run on minimal system requirements, which means it is perfect for devices like a smart lightbulb. [9] It enables easy communication between connected devices and a user’s phone if they operate under the same language. Weave, a communications standard that will allow developers to build programs for connected devices to communicate, was announced alongside Brillo for this reason. Weave enables sensors and devices to communicate over the cloud through a shared language. In theory, users can open up their phones and set up any smart device they want to connect. They would then be able to control that device with their smart phones. Any Android device should be able to use Brillo and Weave.

Apple

HomeKit

HomeKit: Announced in 2014, Apple’s HomeKit software will enable users to have wireless and electronic control of their home, household features and appliances. Using HomeKit as a framework, developers can link up iOS products to communicate with home appliances, such as thermostats, light bulbs and garage openers. Therefore, even if smart devices are from multiple manufacturers, they can understand each other and work together. A user will not need to have separate apps to control different smart devices in their home. [10] With HomeKit, Apple does not need to focus on building its own home automation kit. Apple will simply be providing the software platform to which all the top home automation developers can build their own products. Grouping multiple tasks together will be made possible with HomeKit. For example, instructing HomeKit to “get ready for bed” will cause your lights to turn off, doors to lock, and thermostat to lower. This function has already been seen in Samsung's Smart Home Initiative. One of HomeKit’s biggest advantages will be the ability to use Siri to perform household functions. Although HomeKit will not be the first to integrate voice control into home automation, people are already familiar with using Siri which should make it an easy transition for users.

During the announcement of HomeKit, Apple also announced partnerships with manufacturers such as iHome, Philips, Honeywell, and Belkin. It is likely that current smart devices in the market will be able to upgrade to work with HomeKit. [11] A number of products for HomeKit, such as Lutron’s lighting kits, Elgato’s Eve, and Ecobee’s thermostat, are available at the Apple Store now.

Samsung

SmartThings

Smart Home Initiative: At CES 2014, Samsung announced its Smart Home initiative, where a single app will be able to control TVs, mobile devices, and home appliances. [12] This will allow the completion of multiple tasks simultaneously and the ability to set up macro functions. For example, saying “good morning” to the app could make everything turn on in a smart home. The service will be compatible with Samsung Smart Front Loading Washing Machine, Smart TVs, Samsung’s smart watches, Samsung French Door Refrigerator, and their smartphones. Samsung is looking to expand their services to products such as robotic vacuums and the Samsung Gear Fit-an Android based fitness smart watch in the future.

SmartThings: On August 2014, Samsung acquired SmartThings, a home automation start-up that allows people to sync up their connected gadgets and be used under a single app. The acquisition was for approximately $200 million dollars as Samsung continued to show their interest in home automation. SmartThings will continue to work as an independent business but will be moving over to Samsung’s Open Innovation Center in Palo Alto. [13] SmartThings was established in 2012 and began as a kickstarter project that raised $1.2 million in a month. [14]

SmartThings consists of three parts and does not require a home to be rewired to become “smart”. The first part of the system is SmartThings Hub, a physical device that acts as the “brain” of the smart home. The hub connects all smart devices and sensors and acts as a command center. The second part of the system is the SmartThings mobile app. This app is available on multiple platforms and will work on iOS, Android and Windows phone. The app will allow the user to control the smart features in a home. The final part of the SmartThings system is the individual smart technologies. This technology does not need to be a Samsung product and can be a device from a third-party. Smart devices such as Nest learning thermostat, Sonos speakers, and Philips smart lights already work with the SmartThings system. [14]

Microsoft

Insteon: Microsoft announced a partnership with Insteon on May 2014. Insteon is a home automation and control company and announced enhanced versions of their app to be compatible with Windows 8.1 and Windows phone. Users will be able to control household items from their Windows PC, phone, and tablet that run Windows 8.1. Microsoft stores will sell Starter Kits, Home Kits, and Business Kits that will add automation in homes. These kits include Insteon Leak Sensor, Open/Close Sensor, LED Bulb, and Wireless Wi-Fi Camera. Individual device prices range from $30 to $80, while kits start from $199. . [15]

Growth Potential

BI Prediction

Business Insider Intelligence conducted a study for connected-home devices and predicts connected-home device shipments to increase from around 150 million units in 2013 to 1.8 billion units in 2019. This includes smart appliances like washer and dryers, safety and security systems, and energy equipment like smart thermostats and lighting. As the world becomes smarter and better integrated with technology, they believe this market will grow. [16] A market report published by Transparency Market Research valued the global home automation market at USD 4.41 billion in 2013. They estimated the market to grow to USD 21.67 billion in 2020. [17] According to IT research firm Gartner, we are just 7 years away from a mature smart home market. They also predict the rise of smart technology in the home as the awareness of this technology rises. Adoption and spending by customers will result in market growth in this sector. [18]

Growth Factors

The Internet of Things (IOT): The Internet of Things is the integration of digital and wireless technologies in physical objects and systems. As more devices become connected to wireless technologies, the larger the potential of a smart home system. Connected devices will be able to complete tasks and communicate with each other without user input. [19]

Energy Conservation: Increased government regulation regarding energy consumption and general concern for the environment is another reason for the growth of home automation. People will turn to ways to save energy and home automation will be one of the solutions. Home automation technology has the ability to reduce energy consumption by recommending optimal levels of energy use. Programs can be scheduled to optimize lighting, heating, and sprinkler systems. [20]

Booming Smartphone and Tablet Markets: Increased popularity with smartphones and tablets have familiarized the population with apps and wireless connectivity. This eases the transition to home automation technologies and reduces the learning curve of adopting the technology. Most home automation devices on the market currently can be controlled with the addition of an app which makes it cost efficient and simple for a new customer.

Home Automation and Wearable Technology

The integration of wearable technology into home automation could happen sooner than later. Wearable technology is entering the mainstream and can be used with smart devices such as your smartphone. If wearable technology can integrate with smart home technology, there will be more opportunities to grow this sector. A wearable smart device that has constant contact with your skin, allows it to monitor vital signs and read personal data. These devices would be able to verify the wearer's identify, which could lead to an alternative way of controlling smart home devices. For example, if a home owner's identity is verified as he approaches his home, the door can automatically disengage at his approach.

Wearable technology could also track physical changes in the human body as well. If it detects that the user is cold, it could send a command to the thermostat to turn the temperature higher. Nearby lights could be told to dim or turn off if the wearable device detects a slowing pulse and breathing rate of someone who is about to fall asleep. If it could monitor health conditions in the future, certain meal plans can be made depending on the user's health. For example, if the wearable device detects that the user has a high blood sugar level or makes note of which nutrients the body currently needs, it could develop a meal plan for the user. [21]

Benefits

Control: Imagine adjusting the temperature from your bed or controlling the volume of your whole-house audio system from any room. Or imagine the heater in your bathroom coming on automatically on cold mornings before your alarm clock goes off so that it is warm when you enter. Home automation gives the user control of just about every appliance within your home. If a home owner has doubts of whether he locked his doors, he can check and lock them with his smart phone. It will increase convenience and comfort for the homeowner.

Security: Advanced security systems can notify you remotely if there is an intrusion, detect vehicles approaching your home, and automatically lock your doors. An automated home keeps your property under surveillance 24/7 so you can react at a moment’s notice.

Savings: Smart homes also have the potential to be greener and cheaper. Water and energy-monitoring tools, and programs optimize energy consumption, which could impel us to lower our water and energy usage. This could result in lower bills and reduce our carbon footprint.

Automation for elderly: Automation and centralized control have serious benefits for family caregivers. By integrating smart home healthcare equipment, such as monitoring and diagnostic tools, smart homes could simplify the caregiving process. For example, a smart home might allow you to monitor the movements of a relative suffering from dementia. It will be safer and more efficient for caregivers.

Issues/Concerns

Privacy: How secure is the information that has been collected from the smart devices?

Hackers: In a 2014 study by Hewlett-Packard, they found 250 different security flaws in 10 popular smart home devices. These included privacy concerns regarding collection of consumer data, password security, devices didn’t deploy encryption with software downloads, and weak default credentials. [22]

Linking disparate systems: It not easy to link devices to work as one system if you want to trigger an event after another. Even though there is technology currently in the market that can link certain devices together, it can still be a complicated process.

Costly and confusing: Fully integrated custom systems are expensive and often require a consultant to install them. Depending on the smart device, structural changes to the home are needed too. Systems range from $10,000 to $100,000+, well outside the range of the average consumer. On top of the price of the device, there is also costs associated with maintenance, setup, and repair.

Awareness: The current home automation market is almost entirely comprised of the wealthy who were offered the home automation features as part of either new construction or relatively new high-end homes on the market. There is little mainstream awareness and it may take some more time to develop.

To Infinity and Beyond

Predicting the Future: 1994 Bill Gates Playboy Interview

In 1994, Bill Gates was interviewed by Playboy Enterprises about his predictions of the future of technology and the next steps for Microsoft in what turned out to be a legendary interview for the ages. [23] Most of his predictions for the future were accurate and exist today. Some of his predictions were:

  • The Internet as a Social Platform (Facebook): He predicted that the way we find information and make decisions will be changed. In 1994, you were connected only to the physical community around you. In the new environment with the Internet, the community will expand because of how information is stored and accessed. As he puts it, "This tool will be empowering, the infrastructure will be built quickly and the impact will be broad." Sounds a lot like Facebook. Right now we are able to access personal information and reach out to people who are halfway across the world.
  • Movie Streaming (Netflix): There will be a movie streaming platform that could give suggestions to you based on what you have watched and rated highly. You could then select and get video on demand. Afterwards, you could even share what you thought of the movie.
  • A Generation of Screenphones (smartphones): He correctly predicted the touchscreen phone, "A generation of screenphones (with a minicomputer) in which the typically cryptic buttons are replaced with a graphics interface.
  • WalletPC: He wasn't 100% accurate however. He believed that in the future we would have a digital wallet that could allow us to go into a certain door and would open for you electronically. You would not need to bring tickets to the movies because you would have proof that you already paid. You will have digital certificates and digital money. He predicted that this would happen five years from then (which would be 1999), but that did not happen.

Mark Zuckerberg's Predictions of the Future

At a Q&A he hosted on his Facebook page on May 2015, Mark Zuckerberg made some breathtaking predictions of the future[24]:

Telepathy and the Half-Human Half-Machine

Mark Zuckerberg says that one day humans will be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. "You'll be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you'd like. This would be the ultimate communication technology." Eventually, technology will get so advanced that we won't need smartphones or computers to transmit information. Communication mediums will advance from portable devices to wearable technology, and maybe even microtechnology that may be inserted into our bodies.

EEG

Ray Kurzweil, a Google engineer, predicts that humans will have an option to be cyborgs by 2030. He believes that we can incorporate technology in our bodies that would give humans the option to be part-human part-computer.[25] The technology used in this scenario would be DNA nanobots that would help humans connect to the "Cloud", meaning that we could possibly open web pages, send emails, stream videos, and even back up our thoughts and memories in our brains through thinking. He says, "They'll go into our brain through the capillaries and basically connect our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud." This is taking Internet of Things (IoT) to the next level. DNA nanobots would not be rejected by the human immune system since they are made of biological molecules; however, the feasibility of this is quite low, seeing as how complex the brain and how biologically unsound Kurzweil's theory is. It may be possible in the distant future when technology has advanced to much greater heights, but it does not look like it will come to pass by 2030.

As of 2015, brain-to-brain communication is still in its infancy, but there have been some revolutionary developments that can be used as a stepping stone for the future. Two men have successfully shown that it is possible to send a mental message without using any of the five human senses. In September 2014, Dr. Alejandro Riera sent a four-letter word from India to Dr. Michel Berg in a laboratory in France. The complex environment involved powerful computers, robots, and a skull-cap, known as an EEG (electro-encephalograph), that measures electrical currents in our brain.[26] The process of the experiment was:

  1. "Dr. Riera was imagining he was making a series of either horizontal or vertical movements. The mental effort he made to execute each type of virtual ‘movement’ sent one of two sorts of electric pulse into the EEG.
  2. "The machine translated one of those pulses into the figure 1, and the other into a 0, thus creating a digital binary code which he was able to build up to represent the letters of the alphabet he was trying to generate. This took around half an hour to complete and was then emailed via his laptop to France.
  3. "In France, Dr. Berg was hooked up to a machine that converted the binary message into pulses of electricity sent to the occipital lobe of their brains, the region that governs sight. When the pulses were fired, they then experienced ‘phosphenes’ or white flashes on the periphery of their vision. Different pulses corresponded with either the number ‘one’ or ‘zero’. The phosphenes could be converted back by the ‘receiver’ into binary code, and from there once more into the words ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’, in a process that took another half hour.[26]"
Business Implications

Telepathy, with a significant advancement in brain-to-brain communication, could significantly impact the future:

  • Medicine: Stroke victims or people in a coma would be able to move again, using this technology to transfer electric pulses (instructions) from the brain to the limbs. We would be able to communicate with people who cannot move their body but have a functioning brain.
  • Military: Whether you are in an undercover, top-secret mission or on a noisy battlefield, you would be able to talk to your comrades without having to use radio or satellite equipment that could be intercepted by the enemy. [27]
  • Legal: Courts could tell if a witness is telling the truth or if a defendant is truly guilty or not.[26]
Privacy Concerns

The biggest concern with technology has always been privacy issues. The more information vendors receive about our habits, preferences, and personal information, especially with a growth in the Internet of Things, the harder it is for society to maintain their right to privacy. This is our body and our brain, and that is an even more crucial issue at hand. If the technology fails, it could literally become a poison to our bodies. It will be hard to cure as well since the size of this technology is a DNA molecule that cannot be seen by the eye.

Linking our brains and body to the Internet would also have us susceptible to hackers and other security concerns. Phishing, computer viruses, malware, and the like do occur in computers today and it might be the same with the nano computers we have in our DNA. In this case, if someone were to hack these DNA molecules we have in our bodies, there is a possibility of a corruption of data (memory loss or stolen thoughts) and even the possibility of death by corrupting the technology in our bodies.

Again, the technology we are talking about will not happen in the near future and having technology embedded our human body seems a bit far-fetched, but this may happen within the next century or so.

Artificial Intelligence

Facebook AI

Artificial Intelligence can be defined as the capacity of a computer to perform operations analogous to learning and decision making in humans, as by an expert system, or a program for the perception and recognition of shapes in computer vision systems. [1] A.I. is a creating algorithms that learn from a processing raw data and repeating over and over again until it reaches an optimal state. Facebook is currently developing systems that can recognize everything that is in an image or a video, which includes people, objects, scenes, etc. These systems are still under development and are learning how to understand the context of the images and videos in order to give a more accurate assessment of what the object or person actually is.[2] Everyday, millions of people upload photos and videos on Facebook and have conversations on Messenger. Facebook is concentrating on building intelligent machines and crunch all of that data to ultimately build models that can predict what we are going to do and what we might be interested in. [3] So far, Facebook has been successful in face and image recognition, and this AI tech already exists in ATM Machines that can decode numbers off cheques and recognize faces in Facebook photos.

Image recognition technology driven by A.I. can help us achieve a system that can identify words on a screen for a blind person and read them aloud, help an autistic child to decipher facial expressions, or identify street signs in one language and instantly translate them to another. [4]

Potential Dangers of A.I.

With great technological advancement in AI comes the potential of many drawbacks. The emergence of superintelligence may be a danger to society, as humankind may not be able to contain or to control artificial intelligence. Many scientists and tech entrepreneurs have warned the world about the possibility of artificial intelligence as the leading cause to the end of the human race. Stephen Hawking says it best, "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race, and AI would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," [5] probably surpassing humans at some point in the distant future.

According to Nick Bostrom, A.I. is "still nowhere near having the same powerful, cross-domain ability to learn and plan as a human being has. The cortex still has some algorithmic tricks that we don't yet know how to match in machines. However, information processing in a machine substrate lies far outside the limits in biological tissue." [6] This is a potential threat because machines are better and quicker than us in optimizing. Processing speeds in the future could go super fast and can process large chunks of data quicker than we can. The advantage humans have is in creativity and planning and the ability to think out of the box, using a mix of emotions, logic, and gut feel. When machines are able to process a gigantic amount of data, superintelligence can surpass our natural human abilities and that is what scares most people. Society needs to be careful with the development of A.I., and governments should also take a role in the monitoring and containment of this phenomenon.

The solution is: "use its intelligence to learn what we value, and its motivation system is constructed in such a way that it is motivated to pursue our values or to perform actions that it predicts we would approve of. We would thus leverage its intelligence as much as possible to solve the problem of value-loading." [6]

Again, the development of superintelligent A.I. is extremely challenging, and to develop a solution to control this potential danger is an even harder task. It would be wise for A.I. researchers to work on a solution closely with A.I. development to ensure the safety of humankind.

Global Internet

High-speed internet could soon become available in all parts of the world, including rural areas. Several companies have been planning to do this but have scraped these projects because of it is just not feasible. There is still one company that seems still be in the race, and they are seeking government approval for the launch of satellites that could beam the Internet from outer space. SpaceX has officially requested the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for approval to begin testing satellites for what could become a global internet. [7]

SpaceX Internet Satellite

The feasibility of this project is very slim: the production of 4000 satellites would be massively expensive, and the logistics of it would also be quite hectic. The large number of satellites are needed due to a closer orbit distance (750 miles) from the surface of the earth, and that is because if internet is beamed from the traditional length of a communication satellite (22,000 miles), it would not be able to be used effectively due to the intense lag. The costs are estimated to be about $10 billion, but Elon Musk sees this as a potential long-term revenue stream to fund a city on Mars. His plan of having a global internet would compete against fibre optic cables on land, and he says that "packet transfer from L.A. to Johannesburg would not have to go through dozens of routers but through space bouncing from satellite to satellite. This would be faster as the speed of light in a vacuum is faster than that of fiber." [8]

In our perspective, the global internet is a possibility, but it seems more of a humanitarian project than that of a business for potential profit. Internet services do not have any problems currently, and by the time these satellites go up and running (which is a very long time), Internet may possibly be offered in rural areas through traditional Internet Service Providers. The 4000 satellites orbiting over Earth may actually harm the environment and be detrimental to the health of society as a whole. This project is just a bit too far-fetched and is extremely difficult to pull off, much more to pull off effectively.

Virtual Reality

Out of all of Mark Zuckerberg's predictions, Virtual Reality would be the only technology that is almost commercially available today. Virtual reality creates a simulated world that lets the user interact with that world, artificially creating sensory experiences. Virtual reality could be the next step in social networking: with the purchase of Oculus Rift in March 2014, Facebook has started to invest in Virtual Reality technology, and will eventually be incorporating this technology into their social networking site.

Our Prediction of the Future: An Autonomous World

With the rapid development of technology, the Internet will shift towards the interconnection of everything: homes, cars, phones, buildings, roads, and even people. As of now, we are just starting to scratch the surface of the convergence of our physical and virtual worlds. According to Gartner, the stage we are currently in is a stage where physical assets become digitized and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already digital entities, such as systems and apps.[9] Emerging technologies like 3D Printing take the digitization of physical items and provides opportunities for disruptive change in manufacturing and the supply chain. Other technologies include crypto currencies (Bitcoins), mobile health monitoring, a smart workspace, and the Internet of Things.

The next stage is the completely autonomous phase: emergence of technologies that provide human-like capabilities or human-replacing capabilities. This is a world where completely autonomous vehicles are driving people or products, using cognitive systems to do natural language processing and translate a foreign language to you, and eventually smart robots. We believe that this will be the future: around 20 years from now, we will have self-driving cars that will transport us from place to place (minimizing parking spaces and fees), and smart homes that will be like J.A.R.V.I.S from Iron Man that act as our virtual personal assistant that knows what we need/preferences and that can cater these to us, and ultimately the Internet of Things will also take over as technology will be incorporated in our private lives as well.

Technology for telepathy and efficient brain-to-brain communication will eventually occur, but it will not be common place until at least 30 years.

References

  1. Artificial Intelligence | Definition. Dictionary.com. [online] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/artificial+intelligence [Accessed: August 6, 2015]
  2. Mark Zuckerberg's vision of the future is full of artificial intelligence, telepathy, and virtual reality. (2015). Business Insider. [online] http://www.businessinsider.com/facebooks-mark-zuckerberg-predictions-about-the-future-2015-7 [Accessed: July 20, 2015]
  3. Facebook's Deep Learning Guru Reveals the Future of AI. (2013). Wired. [online] http://www.wired.com/2013/12/facebook-yann-lecun-qa/ [Accessed: August 7, 2015]
  4. Facebook AI Video. (2015). Facebook. [online] https://www.facebook.com/zuck/videos/vb.4/10102182256322631/?type=2&theater [Accessed: July 20, 2015]
  5. Google’s Artificial Intelligence Speaks, and She’s a Woman. (2015). TechCo. [online] http://tech.co/stephen-hawking-ai-danger-2015-07 [Accessed: July 20, 2015]
  6. 6.0 6.1 What happens when our computers get smarter than we are. (2015). Ted Talks. [online] https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_bostrom_what_happens_when_our_computers_get_smarter_than_we_are/transcript?language=en#t-244461 [Accessed July 20, 2015]
  7. Elon Musk's Space Internet Plan is Moving Forward. (2015). Gizmodo. [online] http://gizmodo.com/elon-musks-space-internet-plan-is-moving-forward-1711008007 [Accessed: July 20, 2015]
  8. Revealed: Elon Musk's Plan to Build a Space Internet. (2015). Bloomberg. [online] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-17/elon-musk-and-spacex-plan-a-space-internet#p2 [Accessed: August 7, 2015]
  9. Gartner's 2014 Hype Cycle For Emerging Technologies. (2014). [online] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2819918 [Accessed: August 4, 2015]
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