Connected technology and the IoT (Internet of Things) is rapidly changing the way we live, work, and play. For the past few months I have had the opportunity to review several reports that are making some very bold predictions about connected devices. Predictions are a valuable exercise to use our knowledge of the past and present to predict what may be coming in the future. Candidly, I get even more enthusiastic about exploring our technology to forecast greater trends about how we can change our work experiences and then our personal lives in the next few years.
So for me everything is influenced around the IoT. Simply, that means looking deeper at what innovations will the IoT influence in the next decade? There is no question that connected technologies are all the rage. Frankly, as I stated at the outset, I would be completely wrong if I tried to make some dramatic bold predictions based on the IoT, but what I can do is give you some of my observations.
Wearables for Healthcare
First up is wearables. I agree that wearables will continue to have a big play in our lives. The top category for wearable devices as we all know is wireless earphones and that won’t change anytime soon. Adoption numbers for wearable devices is really promising across many categories.
Looking at wearables they will continue to move away from being a fashion statement and consumers will look to use these devices for enhancing and maintaining a stronger fitness regime. Research from GSMA reveals about 25% of adults currently own a smart watch or fitness tracker. In the future, this number will climb as more people will leverage devices for personalized patient care. Patients will use them for health monitoring to reduce the number of doctor visits and to keep tabs on their own healthcare for days-to-day management of illnesses.
AI in Automation
Following wearables is automation. Automation is going to change the way humans work. It will continue to revolutionize the physical workplace by altering the nature of many jobs and creating a new normal in which humans and machines coexist together in new and different ways. In the next couple of decades, the work environment and those employed in it will be performing completely different roles than they are today.
There won’t be any more positions that require repetitive work. All work than can now be directed to a machine will be handled by machine. This will be a dramatic transition unlike anything that we have witnessed at this point. This will be the new normal for all workers. Employees (aka humans) won’t want these positions anyway, because there will be many more jobs that require human ingenuity and creativity. Entirely new job categories will arise from the changes automation will bring to the work environment from connected devices and digital transformation.
It will bring more innovation in AI (artificial intelligence) and drive automation in new ways never witnessed before. AI will be able to perform new tasks that we have only been dreaming about, like embedded infrastructures to enhance our transportation, logistics, supply chain, smart cities, and manufacturing. Ideally, AI technologies will act as an impartial judge to help humans in decisionmaking—and this will be true in so many situations, from ruling in the court of law to sorting through candidate resumes for job postings.
One huge and important discussion that we’ll be having in the next several years is about AI, voice-assisted tech, and ethics. We’ve already been talking about this, but we haven’t really tapped its full potential just yet. The discussion will intensify, and the stakes will be raised tenfold as these technologies become commercialized and viable in the real world.
Smart glasses will find its place leveraging AR (augmented reality) to overlay instructions on top of something in the real world. There are also voice-assisted “hearables,” like headphones that leverage machine learning to translate speech in realtime, which can enable all kinds of customer-service scenarios. We can’t talk about the future of devices without discussing smart speakers and how they’re transforming people’s idea of the smart home.
Knowledge really is power. In the workplace, connected tech can improve employees’ wellbeing, both physically and mentally. When we talk about the devices of the future, especially in the workplace and our personal lives, I foresee devices and technologies that contribute to the “internet of skills” as becoming more and more prominent. The real question is how will connected tech blur the lines between our personal and professional; only time will tell.
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