We’re currently shifting from the Information Age to the Intelligence Age. The Intelligence Age will be characterized by autonomous communication between intelligent devices that are sensitive to a person’s presence and respond by performing a specific task that enhances that person’s lifestyle. The shift is driven by the consumer’s desire for efficiency, particularly in connection with everyday tasks that can be easily automated. And the costs associated with connected devices are no longer prohibitive, so companies of all sizes are able to bring products to market.
Consumers are infatuated with technology that uses connectivity and machine learning to track and analyze everyday habits. They’re willing to let products track their locations, conversations, steps, eating, spending and other behavior because the product creates a seamless experience that couldn’t be achieved otherwise. Google Now, for example, incorporates data from a user’s calendar, web searches and location to present her with relevant information and suggestions throughout the day. [company]Google[/company] Now alerts the consumer to weather, traffic and restaurants nearby and delivers location-based reminders to her phone. It’s a personal assistant that uses data to make a consumer’s life more efficient.
Cost of innovation
Five years ago, it was extremely expensive to manufacture the necessary parts for the connected devices that exist today. However, the rise of smartphones and tablets that use similar components created an increase in the production of components, which led to a rise in the number of manufacturers and an array of price points for varying specifications or quality of product. This made it feasible for companies to purchase radios, sensors, cameras and other materials at reasonable prices.
Once cost was no longer prohibitive, innovation began, and today even the smallest startups can afford (with the help of online crowdfunding in many cases) to build an idea. Planet Labs, for example, is leveraging access to these components to create the next generation of earth-imaging satellites at a fraction of the cost and time it takes to build traditional satellites. By using basic smartphone components, Planet Labs has launched 71 satellites into orbit in the last 16 months. These satellites produce affordable, real-time images that the government and agricultural industry can use to evaluate geological occurrences.
Ambient intelligent devices sense a user’s presence, movement and behavior, analyze that data in order to learn about that user, and then make an intelligent decision to perform a task based on the data. For example, Nest learns about a user’s schedule and uses that information to automate climate control. New companies like Zuli, Iotas and Spire are all entering the market over the next six months and will focus on using data to enable their products to make intelligent decisions based on user habits. Zuli is developing a recommendation engine based on a person’s presence in a specific room, for instance, that will allow for adjustment of the room’s temperature, lighting and music.
As you move through your everyday life, be conscious of moments in which your repetitive actions have limited or no tangible effect on your environment. These moments are examples of when, at some point in the near future, the Intelligence Age will deliver enhanced experiences that turn the mundane into remarkable. These moments are opportunities to develop new products and services that will create the next economic boom in America and worldwide. The companies that capitalize on these opportunities will be the first publicly traded companies to be valued at a trillion dollars.
Mark Spates is head of Logitech’s smart home platform, founder of iotlist.co and president of the Internet of Things Consortium.