How “able” will the connected world become?

 

Earlier this summer I attended the D11 conference where one of the key trends addressed was “able devices”. A range of new computing applications are emerging in the form of ‘wearables’, ‘driveables’, ‘flyables’ and ‘scannables’. All are part of the Networked Society evolution towards a more connected world.

 

Networked Glasses were introduced earlier this year while augmented reality applications are already entering the mass market. Disney is launching a networked wristband at their theme parks allowing families to pre-book their favorite rides and cut waiting times. Many of us are already using pulse-meters to monitor the impact of our exercise. The era of ‘wearables’ is just beginning.

 

Networked cars and associated accessories fall into the ‘driveables’ category. Navigators are becoming connected in real-time with media content being delivered over the air to their vehicles. Soon electric-powered vehicles will keep track on where and when to charge next.

 

Remotely controlled drones are entering the surveillance market and more devices can be expected to move into the air as part of their typical usage pattern. QR Codes are becoming an integrated part of a networked life including clothes with QR codes connected to washing instructions. Product information is now commonly accessed through QR codes rather than the product packaging.

 

A common factor in the “able computing” trend is the smartphone which acts as an intermediate device for connecting able devices. Here Wi-Fi/Bluetooth provides the personal/local connectivity while smartphones enable access to apps and connectivity to the cloud.

 

My predictions for the future are:

  • Able devices are in their infancy and will grow rapidly in coming decade
  • Able devices will grow up in an eco-system where apps and mobile connectivity to the cloud are fundamental enablers
  • The smartphone will play a key role as a control/relay device supporting able devices