I am a parent, futurist, and technologist. My career has spanned the birth of personal computers to the rise of cloud computing.
The Market for Innovation Is Consumer-Driven Now
As a futurist, I often look to enterprise solutions. I speak of them on this blog frequently. Things like machine intelligence and machine learning are incredibly powerful future tools. They are also current tools, but their potential lies in the future.
Today I want to talk about consumer solutions in the market now. One of the interesting realities for me is that I have lived through the transition. In the 1960s and 70s, innovation was driven by governmental bodies and defense groups worldwide. That slowly shifted to consumer culture, and consumer culture has been the driver of innovation over the last 25 years.
One of the things that I find interesting is that consumer innovation is often fast. If you think about the innovations created in the space race of the 1960s, it took 20 years for those to make it to the consumer market. Now things arrive in the consumer market and explode within months.
Today I will talk about a few areas that are growing in capabilities and functionality.
Voice and Language Translation
First, let's consider the area of voice and language translation. Now there is the concept of cellphone-based voice translation, represented by the services of Google or Apple, and several other products available in the market today.
Those, however, require that you have your cell phone and the capacity to connect to a data network. Being connected to a data network can be expensive if you are outside your own country. So that does ultimately limit the capacity of cell phone-driven systems.
The other side of the translation market is the newer area of handheld translation devices and voice translation earbuds. These connect to the cell phone, but many offer the ability to translate voice using earbuds only. There are several examples of this in the market today. I won't go into specifics, but the capabilities and capacity of those solutions continue to improve.
Another example is the capacity of web meetings to offer live language translation during a session; that way, people can speak in their native language with the other speakers and don't have to worry about it. The meeting software does all the translation work. So one of the big changes I see coming is the ability of people to have off-line voice translation capability as they walk around.
Another thing that interests me is the evolution of streaming services. Streaming services allow you to download or stream video, including live television, anywhere. You can watch Netflix on your cell phone if you want.
The reality is that streaming services continue to expand and improve. What that does is allows you to view anything virtually anywhere. One of the interesting things I know is that some Hollywood stars were not happy about it and filed lawsuits against this action. Still, the reality of the entertainment industry right now is movies being released in the theaters and then released on premium pay services within weeks.
There was a time when you couldn't even get a DVD of a Hollywood movie for six months after the movie was out of the theater. Now you only wait for 3 to 4 weeks and watch the movie in the comfort of your home for significantly less money than going to the theater.
But the other side of those services is that they now allow downloads. You have to have Netflix to play Netflix downloads. But that is more due to copyright and other laws. Now you can take your device to a place where you have no cell service and still watch movies, TV, and other entertainment shows. Streaming is such huge innovation and continues to expand what it can and cannot do.
The next to last consumer innovation that I find incredibly interesting is 5G, which offers the cell phone user a massive amount of bandwidth and the ability to download movies in minutes. There's much more, however, 5G will empower and enable.
Suppose you think about the concept of information services that can deliver massive amounts of information to a person in a situation utilizing 5G. In that case, you have an empowering market shift. Transporting an enormous amount of data to a cell phone or tablet becomes easier when the device has a 5G connection. Now you are no longer limited to how much data you can download. It becomes more about how much data you need.
Now, at some point in this digital transformation era, we will get smarter about how much information we send. But that's a future state, not a current state. 5G is very early in its implementation, but as it improves, you will see more and more capabilities unlocked in the devices you carry with you. As more and more 5G services become available, more and more services will spring up. We will begin seeing more autonomous systems, including cars and other technologies.
Oh to Live in Interesting Times
The market is growing fast, from augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to autonomous cars, 5G, and live voice translation. It continues to modify the way we interact with the world around us. I would think it's fair to say that the reality of these consumer innovations has yet to reach its full potential.
Over the next few years, I think you will see more capabilities in voice translation. I think you will see more and more ubiquitous high-speed 5G available everywhere. Although that's redundant, isn't it ubiquitous and almost the same thing. But in this case, ubiquitous means more than what would be available physically, including inside buildings. So I do believe that streaming services are going to continue to improve.
Consumer culture, the innovations we see before us, continue to move at breakneck speed. I have to say, as a futurist is a very interesting time to be alive.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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