As its approaching Christmas time, I have been thinking about high tech presents, and particularly wearables, like watches and Fitbits. Are they relevant and when is the right time to get one that becomes a “must have”? I have concluded that they are the forerunners of the future of the entire computer/phone industry and the type of devices that will replace computers and phones in the next decade or two. Why? Because as phones and computers become more personal to every human they must shrink in size and grow immensely in capabilities.
I have started calling this the first generation “body computer” because that is where the computer will end up, no matter who wins out or how the implementation ends up, it has to be on the body. Apple started with the Watch, Google with its “Glass” and Microsoft with their Hololens and a myriad of others. The Apple approach started with a big computer on your wrist with a little screen, whereas Google started with a giant virtual screen in front of your eyes. The marriage of these is where we will end up.
Well I confess I personally have an Apple Watch and a Fitbit One that I wear religiously every day. The devices are so primitive on what they future will bring, that only those who see an immediate benefit should buy them. Was Apple right in putting out a watch? Well I will contend that their intended use was wrong. They have been correcting that through software updates, simplifying what you can do and focusing on health and fitness. Have you noticed that the hardware is on version two, but their software is on Watch OS is on version 3. All in less than two years – fast for Apple. And Fitbit last week said they were moving towards health functions that your doctor can use, a new niche beyond primitive steps.
The thought that you can conduct business on a tiny screen was wrong. I don’t need hundreds of apps – at least not until the screen projects in space in front of my and I use voice and my hands to control all of the functions of my “body computer”. The small screen of Apple Watch is not a computer, as it does not have the capacity to see all that you need to see from a computer point of view. The “view” of Google Glass or Holo Lens is the view only, not the computer side. Google erred by making the “view” have power fully based on the cloud. I believe that first company who puts a powerful computer on your body with the equivalent view of a 4k TV screen in front of you – projected or holographic, will win the war to change computers to a “Body computer”. That company will own the next generation of computing.
Where the computer ends up, on your wrist, on you ear, taped to the body, or even embedded in your body, the result will be the same. The body computer will sense your internal biorhythms (heart rhythms are like fingerprints unique to the individual) and work only will on or in you. As the size and communications capabilities shrink over time, there will be no need for a big computer, or even a phone, just a body computer. Think about it, the processing power will need – at least as far as I can see into the future, a watch sized computer to handle the power that your phone, pad, laptop all have today. When you go to work the communications capability will grab data that you need for work and everything will be projected in front of you. No computer displays, no phone/tablet/watch for you to glance at, it will all be in front of you whenever you want it. Your employer will not need to buy you a computer, but rather give you encrypted channels into their network of data that runs their business. Already startups have you bring your own computer, so habits are changing in preparation of this brave new world.
As any new industry starts out there are a lot of individual efforts that will all be needed to make this Body Computer happen. Miniaturization of the hardware and sensors will continue. Apple is a leader in that area. Projection screens where Google, Microsoft and Facebook all are working on. Artificial intelligence to make decisions without requiring us to think, where IBM (Watson), Google, Apple and a myriad of others are leading. Voice and text recognition where Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa), Google (Home), IBM (Watson) and others are making fast advances. And there is even a leading totally stealth company Magic Leap that raised $1.4 billion (yes Billion) dollars without releasing a product that is supposed to be building this. Of course they are starting with games to get us used to the technology. But that is a lot of money without a product, showing the tech giants know this will happen.
In summary, we have yet to see the future of computers/phones etc. It is just beginning. But once it is on our body, the “Human Computer” will rule our businesses, our lives and transform society in ways yet unknown. We live in exciting times as the “computer revolution” is still at its infancy. The mobile computing revolution will be seen as very crude first attempts in a few short years. So when you buy your new tech baubles this Christmas realize you are leading the way as a way of getting feedback to the bright minds building our future computing.