Wearable Tech, the Internet of Things and the Future of Websites
It has been a cliché for centuries to say the world is changing fast. But the cliché has never been truer than in the modern age of the internet and new technologies. For a small or medium-sized business owner this presents the challenge of trying to keep up. To help, here are some of the things that might change the way we live and do business in the future. They include wearable tech, the internet of things, and the future of websites.
You don’t have to go far in terms of cinema, science fiction or comic book heroes to find examples of wearable technology. In the past, these items largely existed in the imagination but this is changing fast. It’s now possible to make computing components tiny which in turn has made wearable technologies possible.
Manufacturers and innovators do face a problem though: creating something that people will find both useful and practical. Let’s take two leading examples of wearable technology - wristwatches and glasses.
Many companies now make smart wristwatches. But they’ve struggled to add functionality that’s not delivered better through a smart phone. This means that the biggest market for smart wristwatches is in the fitness sector because they’re more practical than carrying a phone. Unless you’re a super fitness freak, analyzing your performance and fitness levels can have limited appeal.
Glasses with technology built-in have wider potential, with more likelihood of long-term success. And when an IT giant like Google leads the way (with Google Glass) it’s important to take notice. But currently the technology behind Glass stands out (i.e., you look odd wearing it. Or like a “glasshole.”) This just means people will need to get used to the technology. And the manufacturers will have to make it a bit more discreet…or less nerdy looking. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is paving the way with frames are made for glass. And other examples include the skiing goggles that look like any other goggles but give you information like speed, incline and your position on the slope. It’ll take more time before this sort of technology becomes as common as the other everyday technologies like your television, phone, and computer. But we’re on our way.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a concept that is likely to have more of an impact on small businesses than wearable technology. It is where individual things exist and communicate on the internet on their own.
A simple example is an oven connected to the internet without being connected to a computer or any other device. This connectivity will allow you to control the oven from anywhere. But the concept goes further than that as the oven will also connect to other devices. For example it could tell your microwave to start heating up the sauce for the meal it is cooking so that everything finishes at the same time. Or it could turn itself down when it gets a message from your car that you are stuck in traffic and are running late.
The possible applications of the Internet of Things are almost endless. It includes solutions for the home like the example mentioned above but it also extends to manufacturing, healthcare, security, education, agriculture and more.
The Future of Websites
For many small and medium-sized businesses their involvement with the internet centers on their website and on communication – email, social media, etc. So how will this and other new technologies change websites?
There is no definitive answer to this question as there are too many variables. The only thing that is for certain is that you will need to continue moving with your customers, i.e. your customers went online so your business went online; your customers started using social media so you started using social media; and your customers started using mobile devices so you made your website mobile-friendly.
Part of this will involve making websites smarter. In the future, they’ll need to respond to the location, interests, viewing device and intent of your customers even more than they do today.
You can use the potential oven technology mentioned earlier as an example. Once your oven finishes cooking your meal and coordinating the other devices it could then communicate with your refrigerator to tell you that you’re out of carrots. You’ll then be able to use a screen on your refrigerator to order more carrots from your local store – the website of that store should be smart enough to display and work on that device.
The right technology makes your business tasty. And it’s all food for thought (puns intended). How will you make it work?