We are living in arguably the most exciting time in human history, and I’m mesmerized by how fast our world is evolving thanks to brilliant technologies and the sheer volume of inanimate objects that are connecting to the internet on a daily basis, forming the internet of everything (IoE).
As much as it seems everything is digital these days, our world is almost entirely analog. However, digital technology (and its massive potential to revolutionize our world) is trending toward mainstream popularity, in spite of traditionally being relegated to the minds of the ‘geeky’ few. The reason for this trend is simpler than it might initially appear and it’s the topic of this post.
Let me explain. For decades technology was controlled by unnatural user interfaces, or UIs. Imagine yourself, interacting with the computer or mobile device you’re currently using to read this post, with only a keyboard and typed command-line as your user interface, instead of the familiar mouse or touch controlled graphical UI you’re used to interacting with.
We have the late Steve Jobs to thank for the monumental shift toward natural UIs and submissive hardware design. While referencing Jobs’ reason for including a handle on the first iMac (in Isaacson’s Steve Jobs Autobiography), Sir Jonathan Ive is quoted stating, “…with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them…”
Jobs’ reasoning (and design theory) is profound! Think about it. Mobile devices have become our devices of choice, above desktop and laptop computers, because they conform to our needs through submissiveness; our mobile devices fit comfortably in our pockets, hands, etc. and they’re relatively easy to interact with. Upcoming revolutionary technologies will take that concept to the next level by only communicating with us or our other devices when communications are relevant, removing much of the human interface altogether.
Cisco’s Chief Futurist, Dave Evans summed it up nicely in a recent post about the future and how the IoE plays a significant role in it. Evans writes, “…this is not simply a story about technology, it’s a story about the intersection of technology and humanity.”
Evan’s concept perfectly encompasses the essence of Jobs’ design theory, articulating the importance of balance between technology and humanity. This balance is the fuel powering technology’s mass adoption and I’m most excited about how this balance will influence the technological transformation of the healthcare industry.
In another post, Evans shares his vision of how the IoE will transform healthcare – “When you check into a hospital, your outfit du jour will connect with the hospital network to finalize the check-in process and provide your doctors and nurses with crucial information regarding your health….and detect who is in need of immediate attention.”
I’d like to take this vision one-step further: Imagine if a digital experience could be augmented with a sensory rich (instead of sensory limiting) reality. IBM produces an annual “5-in-5” set of predictions and in 2012, IBM predicted that within 5 years computers and mobile devices will reproduce textures, giving them a “sense of touch” and NASA agrees. One of the limiting factors in remote healthcare is doctors have to conform too much to technologies and don’t receive enough feedback to perform most procedures remotely.
The possibilities of what can be achieved in healthcare are endless, and seamless connections are the glue that will hold this vision together. Ironically, it’s the balance between humanity and technology that pushes us to keep technology in the background, which in-turn, is keeping the digital revolution on our minds.
Am I right-on, or am I oversimplifying the driving factor behind digital tech’s popularity? Let me know in the comments!