Technology thought leader Robert Scoble will share his vision for "the age of context" and what it means for you and the CE industry at CEA's Industry Forum October 20-23 in Los Angeles.
We are in the beginning stages of a new age: one where context will change nearly every consumer electronics device. What is context? The ability for the Internet -- and software running on it like Google Now -- to know where you are, who you are with, what your state is, what you are doing, where you are going next, and a lot more -- all thanks to new sensors and new Low Energy Bluetooth radios. This new age joins five separate things, mobile, local, sensors, wearable computing devices, and a whole set of new data computation, er machine learning, to do all that.
This new age is seeing us wear a ton of sensors, from Nike FuelBand, FitBit, Jawbone Up, Basis, to the Fatigue Science sensor that I'm wearing to see whether I am getting enough sleep. The new iPhone 5S has a new kind of six-axis accelerometer inside it and the phone is tracking the places you visit.
Soon, both devices from Apple and Google will know whether you are walking, running, biking, skiing, driving, shopping, among other contexts.
So, why doesn't it matter whether Apple's long-rumored iWatch or Google's Glass wins? Because they are both examples of a new kind of device that can bring new utility to their owners based on their context and they shouldn't be the only ones that do that. Google Glass brings a few new sensors -- the ability to know where your head is aimed and where your eyes are looking. iWatch will have sensors inside similar to the one inside my Fatigue Science sensor -- it'll know things about you that your phone doesn't and it will be able to play games with you and even assist your life.
These new gadgets will get a lot of attention when introduced in 2014 and might even get added to your Christmas list, but the consumer electronics industry shouldn't buy into the hype that these will be the only two choices next year. Every device should be rethought, the same way engineers at Apple and Google are rethinking the world, because of the contextual information available as you walk near a Low Energy Bluetooth Radio.
Your camera? It shouldn't just capture pixels. It should capture the CONTEXT of the moment. Who is in the picture? Where was it shot? What was the stock market doing the day the image was shot? What was the weather outside? Was it shot in a crowded space? Or one without people? Was it shot at a national park? At Disney World? Was your heart racing because you were on a roller coaster? Or skiing a nice slope in Aspen? Were you hungry when you shot it? Sad? Happy?
Your refrigerator? It could suggest a meal based on sensors you are wearing, along with knowing what you brought home from the grocery store (or had delivered from another service that you used on your mobile phone). Your coffee maker? It could talk with your Beddit sensor and know you are getting up a little early. It could anticipate your need for coffee and brew that automatically. It could even know you order a latte at Starbucks every morning and could reconfigure itself to make that latte at home instead (maybe even ordering its own supplies).
We are going to see every consumer electronics device change because of contextual thinking. You should already be thinking this way before Apple and Google come along to define what contextual thinking is. That's why it doesn't matter whether Google Glass or Apple's new watch wins. It's your chance to be part of the contextual conversation. Those who don't will definitely feel the pain over the next 24 months as consumers choose devices that do use contextual technologies inside.