We live in the present, and it is “we”. Hence, the very special moment that has no parallel in history. I already pointed this out in discussing the jobless Society, and I started from this consideration again, as I moved to address a scholarship of senior college students in the ICT (Information Communications Technologies) area.
The special feeling of “today” gets mixed with the impression that so much has been achieved that one cannot really expect to see anything more happening in technology.
If you have an idea it is most than likely that you will find your idea, and the product implementing it, available a few clicks away on the internet. It has the “everything has already been invented” syndrome over an over again.
This feeling that everything has already been invented is captured by the “inconspicuous innovation” concept of Shelley Palmer, a US commentator of technology and innovative markets.
He points out that by missing the big bang, the once in a lifetime product, we miss the perception that innovation is actually happening every single day and at a break-neck pace.
He is pointing out that this year at CES (Las Vegas January 2016), the largest electronic consumer show on Earth, there will be some 20,000 new products announced. Most will be about a slimmer or more performing, or lighter, or more sleek version of something that is already on the market. Hence, nothing new under the Sun. And yet, nothing can be more false. Each of those seemingly linear improvement has required ingenuity, and in most cases is leveraging on new technologies or improvements to exiting technologies or new ways of applying technologies (including new manufacturing processes.
Notice how this inconspicuous innovation is “inconspicuously” reshaping the marketplace, our ways of living and our communities.
Still quoting Shelley, millennials in the US are more likely to have a smartphone than a PC, actually 92% of millennials have a smartphone.
Overall, people are spending 65% of their digital time on a mobile device and 90% of that is absorbed by just a few applications (mostly social media apps). Web surfing has decreased in a few years by half whilst digital content viewing has increased 240% with the average US user spending 3h 40’ with a mobile device. This is telling a lot about changes in our way of living and of socialising, for better and for worse.
Traditional television is fading away replaced by time shifted and video on demand, with live TV relegated to sport events.
Man-machine partnership is becoming inconspicuously evident in the automotive industry (and of course in our way of driving). More and more nuances of assisted driving are becoming available, from assisted to self parking cars, from adaptive cruise control to lane assist…
Augmented reality is becoming “normal” with our smartphone reading QR codes for quick payment with no showing of a credit card or just looking around the surrounding to harness information making sense to us at that particular time. Real time translation of text (voice coming up) is another flavour of augmented reality, isn’t it?
Smart wearable are still probing the market reaction but some smart wearable are now in use in the medical arena, like smart bandages and monitoring devices. It is likely that we will find ourselves using more and more smart wearable by the end of this decade, without realising when we started doing that.