Richard Branson - he of the lion's mane, toothy grin, and enviable lifestyle - is often credited for saying, "Time is the new money."
Nailed it in one, Sir Richard.
Technology's first wave put all the world's information at our fingertips - and let us access it as fast as we could type a query into Yahoo, Bing or Google. On the balance, that's been very good for us. But the downside is significant - a frenetic, always-on culture, from the news we consume and the photos, tweets and links we share to the stratospheric expectations of most employers (perpetually reachable, instant responses, no time is sacrosanct).
That's why technology's second wave is now shaping up to be more Branson than Brin.
The notion of time is especially important in an age where half of Americans who work 50+ hours per week don't take most or any of their vacation time, more than 50 percent feel overwhelmed or burned out, people expect email replies between 12 and 24 hours no matter what day of the week it is, and 10 hours interacting with screens per day is the norm. This second wave of tech is about giving back what you need the most, the precious commodity of all: your time.
Here's how technology's smartest innovators are doing precisely that, all by:
Making it personal
When our technology knows us, it can help us do more and ease our everyday efforts to get more done in less time. Google Now can proactively predict your routes, based on your habits, destination, and traffic patterns, even ping you when it's time to go. Pandora and Trip.com, we're sharing hyper-personalized recommendations of people like you - whether you're a foodie, an adventure traveler, or on a budget - combined with real-time elements like weather, time of day, and where you happen to be at that moment in time.Spotify work to figure out what you like - and surface new music so it's discovery without difficulty, all inspired by your preferences. Your Nest thermostat can learn when you are away and the temperature you like your house, so your house is always at a comfortable temperature. At
Making sense of data
In the personal future, the best technologies will be the ones that quickly and reliably help you figure out what's good, trustworthy information from a tsunami of useful, irrelevant or just plain bad data points. The data deluge is real - and it's annoying at best and confusing, even overwhelming, at worst. IBM says 90 percent of the world's data was created in the last two years. Just three short years from now, some say the digital universe will be 40 times larger. At what point is having access to all that data actually useful? It's not, at least not without the ability to rapidly sort and easily understand it so you can do something with it.
Traffic app Waze, for example, uses real-time data to giving you traffic updates and re-route around slowdowns while you're en route. A company called OpenDoor is using big data to give home sellers the ability to get an offer for their house in 24 hours, without the hassle of realtors and open houses. Google and Tesla are working on self-driving car technologies that not only will reduce accidents, but will decrease traffic jams by allowing cars to communicate with each other.
Making it convenient
Technology's second wave is really keyed to convenience. When our apps simplify our lives, it means we can turn our focus to other things that are more important. If you use Lyft or Uber, you've undoubtedly seen your driver's picture, the estimated time of arrival, gotten a quick text when they arrive, or even tracked her real-time progress via your cell. You didn't have to call for your ride nor did you have to hurry and finish up what you were doing to wait outside, fearful you might miss your driver. You simply walked out when he or she got there.
Services like Instacart save you the trouble of going to the grocery store. Ring offers Internet-powered doorbells with cameras that let you answer your door from your mobile phone, even when you're in another country, and tell the delivery person where to leave that package. And home assistants like Amazon's Echo allow you to order anything or play your favorite song with a spoken command. It's a small thing but it illustrates the point of the personalized future: taking the work and worry out of everyday tasks. In aggregate, those elements add up; when technology does its job well, you actually spend less time on it and more time, well, doing whatever you want.
As technology's second wave continues to mature, we will see more and more innovations that feel personal, customized to us and our habits; assistive, as they support better discernment and decision making; and convenient, easing our everyday lives with small but useful touches.
What are your favorite second-wave apps? What would you like to see?