The power of connectivity is driving change at an unprecedented rate, fueled exponentially by technology. According to Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI), over half a billion mobile devices and connections were added in 2013 and, by the end of 2014, the number of connected devices will exceed the number of people on the planet. And as mobile network connection speeds double by 2018, it will become easier and faster to increase the number of your connections, as well as how you use them.

Not only is everything (and everyone) getting connected – but those connections are getting smarter. It’s making us redefine what it means to be connected and moving us to see the world through a different lens. It’s about more than just creating connections – the user experience is now the new benchmark.

The experience starts with you. Self-tracking is a growing trend, with wearable devices and embedded computing becoming more and more pervasive in our daily lives. This is what’s driving the quantified self movement, defined as “an advanced way of collecting data about an individual’s life using technological tools.” I’ve been using activity-tracking devices for some time and currently own all of the most popular brands, so I can personally attest to the power of information and how it’s changed my behavior as a result.  A quick glance at my wrist, for example, offers a plethora of data that helps me decide whether to walk to a meeting or perhaps take a cab – with the ultimate goal of keeping me on track to stay fit and healthy.  And by gamifying the results with award badges and fun animations, these devices can also help motivate you in attaining your goals. I’m not alone in this quantified self quest – 90 million wearable devices are expected to ship in 2014, with health and fitness wearables being the key driver.

A seamless experience of all of our personal and wearable devices is the key as we continue our technology march. Let’s continue to imagine together what will be possible in the not-so-distant future. In my last blog, I was about to start on a jog through New York City to show you a glimpse of life in a hyper-connected world. Follow me as I head out and get fit while staying connected.

Sensors on and around me – and how they interact with each other – are the key in getting the most out of my morning jog experience, while also monitoring my health and fitness. Entering the city, I touch the sleeve of my tee shirt to set the temperature. This will help keep my body temp regulated while I run and keep me from getting overheated. Embedding sensors right into clothing is the next wave in evolving personal style with personal health.

Measuring and understanding environmental factors, such as air quality, can also have an enormous impact on physical performance and health. If I were allergy-prone, for example, smart environmental monitoring would be invaluable. You don’t want to be jogging when air quality is poor or pollen count and dispersion rate is high. On my route today, sensors embedded in trees are capturing and assessing that kind of data and feeding it to my smart watch. This kind of real-time, location-based service gives me meaningful information on my immediate environment (and whether it’s a good idea to keep jogging) and can even help chart an alternate jogging route to avoid high-pollen areas.

Connecting People to People

Location-based services also connect people to people. My running club app alerts me to the fact that other members of my club are out for a run (and vice versa), as well as who is in the vicinity. We can join up for a group run or set up times and places to meet others along the way.

Connecting People to Businesses

How did my local coffee shop know that I was dreaming of a triple espresso? Through my City24/7 urban app, it senses when I’m nearby and sends me special offers. This kind of real-time, location-aware service works on a hyper-local level, creating a more personalized neighborhood and consumer experience. And in a trend started in South Korea, grocers around the world are bringing their stores to the customer through virtual supermarkets. Using a free smartphone app, people can shop on the fly at train stations and other central locations by scanning QRC codes on an interactive food display billboard, then scheduling a home delivery. As I’m jogging, I notice a virtual grocer’s billboard at a local bus stop. I can easily “pick up” some things for dinner and have them delivered in time for our evening meal.

It’s indisputable that the perfect storm of computing power, networking, and cost is going to drive the emerging hyper-connected world.  Connected devices will evolve to sense, collect, transmit, and analyze data that quickly delivers insights to help achieve our desired outcomes. The true power will come about when multiple data source and streams from proprietary and open sources are combined to deliver a unique personal experience.  A world that will enable any of us to create applications so customized that it may have a market share of ONE…. YOU.

But let’s not wait for the future. The Internet of Everything is already here. We can greatly enhance our health and improve our lives through the knowledge and wisdom gained from personal data. The early generation wearable devices, like FitBit, Jawbone, and even Google Glass are only scratching the surface. As their level of contextual awareness and intelligence grows, devices will “learn” to act and interact with us like we humans do, providing a more sophisticated level of predictive analytics for better and more informed decision-making.

Are you ready for what the future of connectivity can bring? By 2018, there will be 4.9 billion users – or 64% of the projected global population – and 10.2 billion mobile devices and connections used globally. What do you think your connected experience will look and feel like? Share your thoughts with us using My #IoE.