- U.S. A.
- Montag, 02. März 2015 16:23
- DANIEL BURRUS
I’ve written a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT), wherein a rapidly growing number of machines and sensors have IP addresses and they are connected, gathering and transmitting information all the time. But in the world of extreme connectivity we’re building, it isn’t all about data collection and high-speed analytics. There’s going to be a reorientation in the way we think about energy too.
Take your shoe, for instance. The day is approaching fast when a shoe is no longer just a shoe — it’s a power plant. Researchers in Germany have begun to develop wearable tech that you don't just wear; you get power from it. The movement of the shoe generates energy and that energy can be harnessed to power the other devices on your person.
And in the same way that your shoe isn’t just a shoe, light bulbs are not just light bulbs. We have to reconsider the objects that we’re accustomed to thinking of as information-inert, or “not carrying any data,” and that includes the objects that “just” light up a room. A company in England called pureLiFi is currently using LED light bulbs to transmit even more information than the radio waves that are currently used for wireless data communication. The technology has been dubbed Li-Fi.
Innovation doesn’t stop with tactile objects you can see. Researchers around the world are currently perfecting biocomputers — computers that use biologically-derived materials to perform computational functions. Biocomputers will eventually be able to self-replicate and self-assemble into functional components. It’s conceivable that these biocomputers could automatically run on “free” energy from the sun, no solar panels required, just as plants do.
Speaking of solar panels — in the Netherlands, inventive city planners have already taken advantage of accelerating molecular innovation to create a huge new bike path that doubles as a solar energy generator that’s designed to power surrounding neighborhoods. Think about it: what happens if many of our roads all over the world — thousands or even millions of miles of road surface — double as energy generators?
So shoes and roads will generate energy, lightbulbs will transmit data, and biomatter will be programmable. If you think innovations like these are going to stop there and not affect your industry, you may want to rethink your position. We are at the cusp of a world where there is scarcely an inactive object in sight. We are witnessing an explosion in our capacity to harvest energy from underutilized sources (our own movement, the sun) and to collect and transmit data from familiar, everyday objects.
In the last decade we began adding the word “smart” to any old consumer good that leapt beyond its original function and became connected: smartphones, smart cars, and so forth. I look forward to the day when we take “smart” for granted and stop saying it altogether. Because almost everything will be smart. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if I overheard a young person refer to an object that isn’t gathering information, transmitting data, or harvesting energy as simply “dumb” — be it a regular old watch, a regular old traffic light, or a regular old toaster. Such objects will be increasingly replaced by objects with connected intelligence.
Don’t Just Change, Transform
The changing landscape of technology in collecting and transmitting data and harvesting and storing energy will exponentially increase our capacity to make things smart and connected. It will allow us to transform how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate. We are now reaching a point where we have the tools to transform every business process. Being able to transform, rather than merely change, is a capability that every organization needs to embrace.
Many organizations today will say they are transforming a process, product, or service, but if you look at what they are really doing, they are only changing it. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, change means “to make something different,” while transform means “to make a thorough or dramatic change.” It is a difference of degree, but that degree is so extreme that it becomes a qualitative difference. Today, embracing change is no longer enough; we need to transform.
There are three truths that you cannot afford to ignore:
1) Transformation will happen.
2) If it can be done, it will be done.
3) If you don’t do it, someone else will.
This is the message you have to grasp: in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, expect and plan for radical transformation in the way we think about, design, and use everything from the clothes we wear to the roads we drive on. The world is getting smarter all around you. It’s time to consider the new opportunities, as well as the predictable problems you will soon have in front of you.
DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books including The New York Times best seller Flash Foresight.