The Big Pipe, it’s a big pipe
On the face of it this is a terrible time. The economic crisis and its resulting austerity measures have had a deep and negative impact on the channel and the IT business across a broad swathe of the industry.
Whilst the mobile business continues to grow the call by Eric Schmidt and Sunil Mittal, the Chairman of Bharti Airtel at the recent Mobile World Conference for a $50 smartphone can hardly have cheered many.
Yet, I believe we might be on the verge of one of the greatest IT booms the world has ever seen. There are five new areas of innovation that excite me sufficiently to make this bold claim. What’s more the speed of development for each of these is such that we may begin to feel their impact within the next 18-24 months or even sooner.
The first area is self tracking. Indeed this trend has already started and is proving popular. The concept is simple enough. By recording what we eat, how we exercise, what we drink, how far we walk, drive, etc and what happens to our bodies during these activities we can calculate whats good and what is bad for us and start to predict when we will get thinner, fatter, are in danger of becoming ill, etc. The reason that this is going to impact the channel is that the tracking and sending/receiving of data is going to require devices such as the Jawbone UP or the Zeo or the Digifit, these are just examples, Taiwan is watching, expect a plethora of new and improved devices in the near future.
The second is the internet of things. Simply put this is adding (IP) internet access to devices not normally associated with being connected. For example a fridge, an engine, a anything that can be uniquely identified or bar coded and connected to share its information. Again that means sending/receiving data, notifications and selling / marketing of how to apply the intelligence.
The third is the emergence of personal satellite devices. I am not referring to whirling metal boxes circling the earth but smaller, simpler IT devices that run or are fed from more powerful devices in your home or office. Already several companies are working on very low cost tablet devices that will be in effect ‘super remote controllers’ for your home powered from your desktop or notebook computer. Think about how the iPad can control your Apple TV, now expand the concept.
Fourth we are going to see the popular adoption of LOC (lab-on-chip) devices. These are small devices that integrate laboratory functions such as delivering small drugs, testing, etc and are essentially a subset of MEMs (MicroElectricalMechanical) products.
These are new, very new and many will need regulatory approval but they are, I predict going to dramatically change healthcare and these parts will need selling, marketing and new business models.
Lastly the introduction of VI (video intelligence) threatens to shake up everything we think we know about data, analytics and the use of algorithms. VI is the enabling of camera’s and video to be able to ‘intelligently see’ and to be able to differentiate what it sees and record, feedback, analyse and warn, predict behaviours, etc. For example it may allow contextual advertising based on whether an ad is being looked at by a man, woman, someone old, young or based on their clothes, rich or poor.
It can also predict trouble in crowds by detecting body posture. On a lighter side it can be used with augmented reality to create games or to detect objects such as flowers, cars, sweets, etc
[Roy Taylor is the top man at Masterimage 3D. He understands the channel every which way. Ed,]