Looking back about 10 to 15 years it’s easy to see that technology has taken a great leap forward and the big companies of the world are looking for the next big thing that going to give them the kudos they need – along with keeping their shareholders happy that things are going to keep moving forward.
This is where this post is going to look at – the big question on everyone’s mind is:
“What is the next big thing for Technology?”
In order to even have a clue about answering this, let’s look back 10 years at two garganutan’s of technology – Apple and Google. Two companies with two different approaches. Apple had just released the first iPhone and Google was the biggest search engine going and had bought YouTube and we had Google Maps introduced to us. In a nutshell Apple had put a supercomputer into an MP3 player and had advanced this to the point where we now had a supercomputer in a phone and Google was making sure that whatever anyone searched for they could find it with a Google service.
As we move forward these two giants move ever forward to colliding, Apple continues the iPhone advance and then creates the tablet computer. Google however is moving outwards, creating a web browser, then an open source operating system based on this and then comes Android. At this point the giants collide as every electronics company in the world can now have the rights to an operating system for mobile devices that is on a level with Apple’s IOS.
The basic movement has been the advancement of bringing the internet to everyone with mobile devices and searchable content. This now means that we have supercomputer’s everywhere, in your phone, tablets and wrist. Why do I say it’s a supercomputer? Because believe me they are, they have more processing power than the MET weather supercomputers of the 1980’s. These devices wouldn’t be possible without this kind of processing power in such a small package.
In more recent times we’ve had Google glass, which wasn’t the great success it was looking for and now the world is looking at cars that could drive us around without assistance. The key to this revolution is the term ‘smart’ smart phones, smart watches and ultimately smart cars that will drive us about. Smart is about enabling devices to do what they couldn’t do before by giving them a computer that can access the internet. This is happening now and things are at the stage where they’re struggling to find things to make smart, we even have things like heating, and basic home functions being driven by devices to make them ‘smart’.
This brings us to the future – what is next? Is the next big thing going to carry on the principle of making something smart? Or will it be something else? When will it happen?
When we look back the iPhone / Smart Phone gave us something we never had before. That’s why it was big, sure it’s essentially a retrofit of existing technology but it was really cool that’s why it was big. The smart revolution is over the way I see it, as it stands we’ve almost reached saturation point in terms of what it can give us in terms of new features or things we can enable.
So smart isn’t the next big thing and it can’t be. The only exception I hold to that is if they start embedding or attaching smart devices actually in / on us so were integrated with our devices. But there’s also an ethical and technical can of worms with this. From the point of view of the everyday user we’re likely to enter a period of time where we don’t see much advancement, it’s going to be broadly speaking a slightly better flavour of the devices we’re using now. They’ll get better and more compact and more efficient, but the same old thing. This is much like a period of technical stagnation that took place from the late 90’s to 2006.
Why is this?
Simple – the rest of the world needs to catch up. This kind of technology needs to reach other sectors like medical and defence where things have stood still for a while and this is starting to happen now. The consumer market has been the guinea pigs to test these technologies and their robustness. Sure, some genius may come up with another clever gadget that will be loved but it’s likely to be a fleeting wonder.
There are two other things to note, we are using more energy now than ever before. This is to the point where the infrastructure struggles to cope. A catch up period is needed to make energy more available and whatever does come next will need more computing power and that needs to also become available. This is exactly the kind of thing that happened with virtual and augmented reality, the technology has been around since the 1990’s but it never took off until the computing power needed for it became available.
As for what it will be next… my gut feeling is that whatever it will be it will free us to some extent from the physical constraints of having to touch a device to make it do what we want it to and perhaps from the limits of screen size to a completely immersive experience that we see before our eyes or maybe in our minds? Who knows… we’ll have to wait and see. The likely hood is that while we might know what the next big thing might have, no one has yet dreamed up the device.