10x Effect

Context Awareness — The rise of Truly Smart Devices

Context Awareness — The rise of Truly Smart Devices

There’s a problem brewing…

As it turns out, we’ve gotten so addicted to technology, that 9 out of 10 people today experience something called “phantom vibrations.” This is when you have your phone in your pocket and you think it vibrated, so you pull it out and there’s nothing.

And if you’re part of that 90%, it’s probably happended to you.

But think about it. We’ve gotten so conditioned by technology — without even realizing it — that we’re hallucinating 90% of the time.

How in the world did we get here?

The Old Days

If you look back at the history of connected devices, the writing has been on the wall for a while.

The unplugged era.

Back in ’80s, we didn’t have any connected devices.

The internet era.

In 1995, something called the Internet popped onto the scene. And this was awesome, because all of the sudden any computer in the world could be connected.

And you had one connected device — your computer.

But with this first connected device, came something called email.

Email brought us the first notification…“You’ve got mail.“

Sometimes, it was a friend, sometimes, it was a picture of a cat, sometimes it was just spam.

The mobile era.

Ten years later, in 2005, mobile popped up. And this is basically what we’re exiting right now.

With the mobile era, we’ve gone from one to three connected devices — your computer, your phone, and your tablet.

And with three connected devices, you’d think that you’d actually get more value, but what they actually do is create endless disruptions and add complexity to our lives.

Because these devices are not smart enough to figure out which one you’re currently using, so they typically push everything to all devices.

So if you have a phone and a computer and someone calls you, it rings on both. And if you answer one it keeps ringing on the other, because your devices are not aware of each other.

This is a big problem because we’re now entering a new era — the “Internet of Things“ era. Otherwise known as IoT.

The IoT era.

The Internet of Things makes everything smart. It is when your fridge is connected, your watch is connected, your car is connected.

And this time it’s not going to be three devices, it’s going to be ten to fifteen devices per person.

There’s going to be more than 100 billion devices connected by 2025.

A hundred billion!

Just try to imagine that.

What will it feel like when fifteen devices are clammering for your attention? When they’re interrupting you all day long? And the only way to get them to actually stop is to manually interact with each one.

That’s horrible. Not a terribly attractive future.

It’s Exponential

And when you actually look at this, you start to see that the curve is exponential. Which means that if you keep going, let’s say 2035, we could have 1,000 devices per person.

1,000 devices!

You’re going to get so many notifications that you’re probably not even going to hear them. Your brain will just filter them out.

This is a real problem. And people don’t yet realize this is coming yet. Most people simply accept that that this is just how technology works.

But it’s not how it should work.

A Brighter Future

There is another technology at work here, something called artificial intelligence.

And I’m not talking about the A.I. that wants to turn us all into batteries. I’m talking about the kind of A.I. that wants to make our lives better. An A.I. that can give our devices context awareness.

Removing the Friction

Context awareness is the concept that gives your devices the ability to sense and react to the situation you are currently in.

Context Awareness is the anti-friction. It is how your phone automatically goes to vibrate mode when you’re in a meeting. It’s how you don’t have to actually click on an interrupter when you get in your house.

The time has come.

A.I. has been around since the 1950s, but it has really taken off due to recent advancements. Advancements that will give it an ever-bigger role in our lives.

The transition.

So right now, and for the next few years, we are going to get more and more friction as new devices roll out.

It’s going to be a bit annoying. Whatever you think you’re experiencing now, it’ll probably get a little worse over the next few years.

But coming in our near future, (A.I.) will become so capable that the value it brings will be more than the friction of all your devices. And at that point, something magical is going to happen.

The golden era.

When that day comes and A.I. starts to really pick up the load, overall friction is going to drop. So the experience of technology — which has being increasing — will suddenly start to drop off.

And because A.I. grows exponentially, friction will quickly drop zero. There will come a time in the future when technology will have no more friction. Thank you, A.I.

This will give rise to an era of ubiquitous computing.

Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous computing is a point in our near future when computing is always accessible. No matter where you are in your house, or at the office, your car — you name it. No matter where you are, you will always have easy access to the cloud and the near infinite resources it provides.

Whether it’s through smart home assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home — any question you need answered — or product purchased — or friend connected — is only a conversation away.

Zero friction.

For that day to happen we’ll need to be able to add a new device to our lives without adding friction. The device needs to only add value.

And that is what the digital revolution is all about — today.

It’s about using A.I. to make technology disappear in a way you can go about your day and not care about it anymore.

An analogy

When you go back a couple hundred years ago, there was another very intrusive technology. It was really bad at the time.

It was called electricity.

Electricity — in the beginning — was very difficult to produce and use.

It was very expensive, it was unreliable, it would cut out all the time. And it was dangerous — you could get electrocuted or your house could catch fire.

This was the reality of electricity back in those days.

People thought that oil lamps were actually safer — who would ever want to put an electrical lamp in their walls and risk everything going up in flames?

But as the technology matured, it became cheaper. It became more reliable. It became more accessible.

And today you have it everywhere. Electricity is in your walls, in your phones, you even have it on your heart if you have a pacemaker.

We don’t have to think about electricity anymore. It became ubiquitous, and now it’s all around us — and in us.

We’ve integrated it in our lives in such a way that we forgot about it. It disappeared from our consciousness. And this is exactly the same thing happening with computing — thanks to A.I.

To put it bluntly, computing will simply disappear.

A Rosey Future

And I’m excited about this because it’s not just a question of having your coffee already prepared in the morning.

It’s not just about your car driving itself, and actually knowing where you’re going.

It’s not about that.

It’s about having the freedom to actually enjoy the world in a way that feels unplugged, but yet, has all the convenience and value of technology.

A.I. is a Beautiful Thing

Without A.I., our future could getting really overwhelming, really quickly.

And none of us want that.

We want a future where technology has disappeared — poof, gone.

So we have the freedom to spend our lives enjoying time with the people we care about.

That is our future — with A.I.-powered ubiquitous computing.

Christopher Mohritz

Christopher Mohritz

Chris is the Founder and Managing Director of 10x Effect.