3 personal tech devices that will change how you do business, forever

OPINION / 24th January 2017

Technology is having a profound effect on society and human behaviour. You only have to look around you to see how. People are walking down the street looking down at their smartphone. Commuters are sitting on the tubes, buses and trains looking at their smartphone. Your kids are sitting on the sofa at home looking at your tablet.

Normal. Right?

Now take a look at this image below of a newly married couple, enchanted, engrossed and enthralled. Not with each other, but with their phones, which the artist has photoshopped out to demonstrate a point.

Image: Eric Pickersgill http://www.removed.social/

Taken by the talented, Eric Pickersgill, from his photographic series “Removed”, Pickersgill is exposing the impact personal tech devices are having on our society, our relationships, and our behaviour.

And it’s this love of the smartphone that’s underpinning our digital revolution. The “always on” mentality, which has become the norm, is forcing companies to change - the way they operate, the way they communicate and ultimately the way they do business.

As personal tech rapidly evolves, and consumers adapt their habits accordingly, people are expecting businesses around them to adapt at the same pace too. This consumer behavioural change in personal lives, is forcing the pace of change in business as well.

New personal tech devices that will hit will hit the market this year and next, are set to have the same profound, if not greater, impact on our lives as the iPhone did a decade ago.  This is because behavioural change starts at home and then filters out.

Take a look at these three new tech devices. Each are in their infancy, yet they will change the way you do business, eventually. Here’s how.

Image: Amazon https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61ikAJnULvL._SL1000_.jpg

Amazon Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo Dot, with its Alexa Skills Kit, may be a low-cost tech device at just under £50, yet the voice user interface technology, or speech recognition, and AI that powers it will soon permeate our lives. This compact, intelligent, machine-learning device can sit neatly on your kitchen work surface, and aid you while you cook. It can be housed in your kids’ bedroom, and help them with their homework. It can sit in the hallway, and tell you what the weather will be like before you choose what coat to wear. Connect it to Spotify, and it will play you the current number one, all when you ask it to.

But what’s this got to do with business? Everything. Voice user interface technology, or speech recognition, and AI will rapidly infiltrate our personal lives. At this year’s global technology event CES in Las Vegas many home devices were being showcased with this technology. Consumers using voice user interface technology regularly in their homes will expect to use this in their interactions with businesses too. All B2C businesses will all have to incorporate some degree of speech recognition within their products and services within the next few years.

Image: Samsung: http://www.samsung.com/ae/consumer-images/product/wearables/2015/SM-R322NZWAXSG/features/SM-R322NZWAXSG-372765-0.jpg

Samsung Gear VR

What has traditionally been the preserve of gaming, has turned mainstream. The relatively low-cost Samsung Gear VR, at £60, was one of the top selling consumer products during the Christmas period. Last year many well-known brands used VR for marketing purposes to create waves within their field. The international hotel group, Marriott, invented a VR teleport machine, which it installed in Times Square in NYC, to ‘transport’ people to far off lands. The outdoor-clothing company Merrell created a VR ‘Trailscape’, that incorporated tactile elements such as a rope walkway, shaking wooden planks, which enabled participants to explore how it would ‘feel’ to be on a mountainside. Even the New York Times began reporting its stories using this medium too.

Far from being constrained to content/marketing initiatives, VR is rapidly being adopted in business and education too. Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is using VR to raise awareness of the negative impact carbon dioxide is having on aquatic life. Documentary makers are using it to re-tell and recreated historical events, such as the Apollo 11 mission. Supermarkets and retailers are also using this VR in planogramming and testing product placement too. Far from being a gimmicky tool, VR is quickly becoming embraced and integrated as a useful business tool.

Image: Snap, Inc. https://www.spectacles.com/images/structured-data/product.jpg

Snap, Inc. Spectacles:

Google glasses may have bombed, but the social media giant, Snap, Inc. has introduced what is set to be the next BIG trend, the Spectacles. These $130 glasses, not yet available to buy in the UK (And only available in ‘pop-up’ vending machines in the US), will introduce wearable tech on a whole new scale. Indeed, its Spectacles, which host a camera, that takes pictures and videos and pairs with a smartphone, and other brands of glasses on the market, are predicted to eventually replace the desktop computing experience as we know it. Sounds radical. This won’t happen in the immediate future, but early use of mixed reality eyewear in business may emerge within the next five years.  When Microsoft, and a heavily financed start-up called Magic Leap (which has so far raised nearly $1.4 billion in venture capital) launch their mixed reality headsets later this year, it will be the it will turn the computing world on its head. According to David M. Ewalt writing in Forbes, these mixed reality devices will “usher in a new era of computing, a next-generation interface [that] we’ll use for decades to come.” Ewalt says of mixed reality that, “The computing power isn’t confined to a gadget on your desk. It’s something that you can link to any object, real or virtual, giving it awareness of its location, intelligence about its purpose and insight on how you might want to use it.”

ORM’s view:

There’s some great new tech on the horizon which will quickly be subsumed into our lives and become the norm, particularly if you're an eager early adopter. Digitally enabled businesses need to keep up in order to remain relevant to these audiences and prevent themselves being squeezed out by disruptive start-ups looking to challenge the status quo.