Thursday, April 2, 2015

Watching Digital Gadgets

With the release of the Apple Watch it’s a good time (pardon the pun) to take stock of the latest in digital gadgetry and consider the associated enterprise application of all these cool toys.

Firstly let’s consider wearables which are front and centre in the gadgetry department. These devices are now much more diverse than just your traditional Dick Tracy style watches. If you can wear it then the Internet of Things is being applied to it. Everything from rings, socks, belts, glasses, earpieces, and innersoles are getting the IOT treatment. From a Use Case perspective wearables have often fallen into the category of a product looking for a market. While fitness devices are proving popular in the consumer market; business applications for wearables have mostly remained niche and in the R&D realms. For the start-ups and device manufacturers the iPhone style journey of reaching millions of consumers is dictating the product lifecycle. And while products are still evolving the rapid changes make it tricky for large organisations to effectively consume the technology.

Wearables offer features that can be exploited by organisations including:
  • Collecting Information: for example biological (e.g. temperature, heart-rate), location/proximity, pressure, microphone, and video.
  • Providing Information: via vibration/tactile, VR/Heads-up, and audio.
  • Interacting: through user interfaces such as gestures and voice.
Typically organisations target use cases areas including: safety, security, identity, authentication, tracking, remote control, training, and advertising/marketing.

Alongside wearables in the cool gadget stakes are of course the latest smart vehicles, including driverless and drones. Google has most famously been successful in testing its driverless car. A quick Wikipedia search will show you that this is by no means a new idea with autonomous cars dating back to the 1980’s. (And I’m not just referring to Knight Rider).
For many years futurists and science fiction has been predicting the end to manual driving. Will you be trading in your car for a robotic vehicle?

Certainly in the agricultural and mining sectors the use of autonomous vehicles is increasing with benefits including reduction of operating costs, increasing yields, and increased productivity.

It’s not just driver-less vehicles that are getting attention but also the continued move towards computing within the vehicle. Initially in dash systems have replaced the traditional radio with media players. Now with mobile wireless internet connectivity along with all the sensors built into vehicles there are many more use cases that can be leveraged. Increasingly there is an alignment between vehicles and mobile phones with regards to technology.

Vehicles don't just have four wheels, drones are increasing in performance (including lift and endurance) and are being used for a diverse range of applications including media, law enforcement, transportation/deliveries and emergency support.

As with wearables the consumers spend (and sometimes crowd funding) is driving much of the new vehicle technologies. Once established there are potentially great industry based applications for these advances.

Along with me many will be watching the watch carefully over the next couple of months. Unlike iPhone and iPad there are plenty of existing contenders in the market at release with Samsung, Pebble, LG, Sony, Microsoft (to name a few) already with arguably similar products. Apple’s advantage is their market penetration and alignment with their product family. Keep watching!

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