The introduction of IBM's Watson confirmed my suspicion that, in a few years, our world will be run by automated machines and robots. Many of our day-to-day activities are already operated by technology - our phone calendars update us when we respond to events on Facebook and Google maps will optimize the fastest route for travel. It's only a matter of time before technology will cook our meals for us and clean our homes while we're away.
Good technology collects and stores data, but great technology can take that data and translate it into useable information to improve our lives. Wearable technology like the FitBit or the Apple Watch measure and deliver data about our health that can then be used to inform decisions surrounding exercise, diet and sleep habits. Five years ago, if we wanted to track our fitness goals, we had to purchase bulky heart rate monitors that strapped around our chests and uploaded data to a computer. Innovations like FitBit can now capture the data we need almost immediately and create a report for users to read directly on their phone.
All of these innovations work to simplify our lives and to help consumers make the most of their days. Imagine a pair of glasses, similar to Google Glass, that can power live video streaming and real-time analytics. Founding Google Glass partner CrowdOptic provides the software that powers smart glasses and other wearable computing devices using an analytics-based approach. Through consumer and enterprise wearables, CrowdOptic and other Glass partners are bringing entertainment such as live television directly to your home or to sports stadium Jumbotrons, while simultaneously delivering data about consumers using smart glasses to companies. CrowdOptic deployed with Google Glass at the Broncos' championship game at Mile High Stadium, with the very first Glass-powered encounter with the Broncos posted on the team's Facebook page. Broncos fans shared individual high-fives with members of the team with Broncos fans all over the world. A month later, CrowdOptic deployed with Sony SmartEyeglass at the Super Bowl.
Whether we're aware of it or not, wearable technology plays a significant part in how we interact with our reality. "Every device of every second of every day intersects just when there's significance in the world. When something significant happens, people are aiming their phones at it, or their glasses, or maybe drones are pointed out there," notes Jon Fisher, co-founder and CEO of CrowdOptic. "Anything out there in the drone world, they intersect by definition to look at the same thing at the same time or even after the fact." We don't think twice before pulling out our phone to take photos of life-changing events and before we know it, we've posted our photos and videos all over social media. Fisher, whose company is the only Glass partner with patents on its technology sees eyewear as a next inevitable step in the evolution of smart, connected devices. "Google Glass and CrowdOptic have had many successful, large-scale deployments at the enterprise level," Fisher says. According to Fisher, consumers will follow enterprises in adopting a world of augmented reality and smart eyewear.
But smart technology supports more than augmented reality. The use of digital intelligence extends beyond pointing a pair of glasses at an object and seeing information about a product filling your lenses. Artificial intelligence is assisting consumers at home as well. Amazon released their Dash buttons that lets consumers purchase commonly used household items, like detergent, with a click of a button. It's an extreme convenience for consumers who purchase the same brand items over and over again. Amazon's Dash buttons, as simple as they may appear to be, are incredibly smart. If you accidentally order your laundry detergent twice, Amazon will not place the order twice and will send consumers an email asking if they meant to purchase more than their usual amount.
Similarly, Nest aims to make homes smarter by monitoring and adjusting a home's temperature based on several external factors. The Nest Learning Thermostat is a great example of how digital intelligence interprets human patterns and behaviors to adjust a home's temperature based on previous data. Nest will learn what temperature you like and build a schedule around yours, adapting to the changing seasons and even lighting up when you walk into the room. It's part of a giant ecosystem of smart technology that is working to automate our lives by cutting out daily small tasks that we soon won't even have to think about.
A fancy smart thermostat and data-collecting glasses are far from robots taking over and wiping out the human race, although Google DeepMind's AlphaGo has already proven how smart it is for a computer when it recently beat a master Go player at his own game. But this growing trend in smart technology will impact how we conduct our day-to-day activities in the near future. It's part of our digital, interconnected on-demand economy that works to simplify our lives to the point where it's difficult to identify where the physical space ends and the digital world begins. The world is moving online at a rapid pace and it's leaving those who refuse to change behind.