I am fascinated by disruptive technology—new technology that unexpectedly displaces an established technology. I’m even more interested in the process that leads to the disruption—the creativity, the experimentation and the innovation that drives it. So many of the most successful disruptive technologies have been developed in support of entertainment—consider Hollywood’s love of color and the advance of glorious Technicolor, or video gaming and the growth of personal devices. Our love of entertainment drives a level of engagement with technology that affects every aspect of our lives.
What’s trending now? What’s the next step in the marriage of entertainment and technology? Wearables. Full disclosure: recently I became a Google Glassware™ Developer.
My first “wearable” was an inexpensive and portable way to listen to music or the news. For the first time, my device allowed me to take music with me anywhere while choosing exactly what I wanted to listen to. My transistor radio paved the way for the boom box, portable CD player, and eventually the portable media players in all shapes and sizes. The home computer influenced laptops and smart phones, leading to tablets and phablets (smaller than a tablet, bigger than a phone). All of these new formats allowed us to carry our lives and our entertainment preferences anywhere we wanted to go.
But, what if we could wear all of these capabilities on our wrist or as glasses, instead of carrying them in a travel bag? What if we no longer needed three or four devices but just one that was on our person at all times? We would no longer “interact” with technology -- it would be integrated into our humanity.
For something like that to work we will need to rely firmly on voice recognition and activation. With over thirty years of research and development, speech recognition has now been incorporated into telephone response systems, automotive systems, and aeronautics systems. Siri® (Apple’s voice recognition software for its products) delivers voice recognition directly to consumers. Moving forward, hardware and software developers agree that speech recognition will be integrated into every device and new technology. First, it eliminates the need for typing leaving the hands free to undertake other tasks. Second, once the speech recognition software has learned to recognize your voice (it is intelligent recognition programming--it can teach itself through repetition and experience) technology will only be hampered by the speed of a wireless connection.
The benefits and advantages are pretty obvious, but, so are the underlying perils. Our culture is bombarded with merchandising, marketing, entertainment, gaming, and educational and current event content. Neuroscientists report that we are quickly reaching the point of sensory overload and overstimulation. The way we access and interact with our wearable technology, while maintaining an appropriate level of cultural and civil engagement could be even more of a challenge than it already is.
I really enjoy my Google Glass™. I’m excited about the opportunities for wearable technologies, but am well aware of the tradeoffs. It is truly a brave new world.