When we bet our whole company on a vision of a post-PC future a few years ago, the Internet was primarily something you used on your PC or laptop.
The iPhone had just launched and there were a few wacky gadgets like the fridge that would let you browse the Internet. Oh, how we laughed at the crazy tech nerds who wanted to put the Internet in everything. Why on earth would I need to check the Internet using my toaster?
These arguments were primarily driven by the use cases a decade ago, at which time the Internet was primarily a browsing tool that had a human as an endpoint. The concept of APIs was new and protocols were complex, low-level things that only embedded engineers or “those guys that work on the kernel” dealt with.
Many people argued that app developers got lucky and struck gold with the proliferation of smartphones and touch screen devices, which fuelled an entire ecosystem and industry of apps.
We firmly believe that phones and tablets are simply the first phase of a post-PC world and the tip of the iceberg when it comes to apps. The next phase will be the ubiquitous presence of wearables and connected devices that will perform highly specialised functions as part of our daily life.
Many are convinced that wearables are hype. While a lot of the noise behind connected devices might simply be PR at this moment and the field is littered with bad devices, we believe there are a few factors that align perfectly for connected devices and wearables to become the buzz of the next decade.
Computers are becoming smaller
As a category, wearables have only become possible because of the shrinking of computing devices, with the size diminishing from house scale to hair scale. And they are only going to get smaller, which means that the possibilities of where we can put “computers” are infinite.
API design is maturing
The Internet and the proliferation of mobiles led to the need to move data between centralised systems and these mobile devices, which were often in low connectivity areas. This allowed innovation and creativity to flourish in the creation of APIs, protocols and tools that allow these devices to talk to each other across the globe.
Whether it is a phone, a toaster or a fitness device, we now have the reliable API design paradigms that can allow these devices to communicate.
The cloud is enabling hugely complex applications and big data
Unlike computers in the 1980s or 1990s, most of our “computing” is now done in the cloud. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Chromebook, which is simply the front-end to the complex server code for Google.
By outsourcing our processing needs to remote servers, we have been able to shrink our computers down to specialised devices that do most of their work by collecting data and providing feedback using the cloud.
Superfast connectivity is becoming ubiquitous
With broadband now a staple in most households, WiFi common in most urban areas and radio connectivity moving to 4G and LTE bands, it is now trivial for any connected device to talk to the cloud and transfer data at amazing speeds.
Technologies like Bluetooth are advancing at a rapid pace, so that devices in close proximity can talk to each other over longer distances. This creates an exciting world, as all of our devices will be aware of the others that surround them.
Designers are taking a more prominent role
Wearables and connected devices in the 20th century were the domain of hackers, engineers and nerds who liked tinkering with technology. While we would never have the wearables industry without the tireless effort of these pioneers, it takes great experience and design knowledge to make these products ubiquitous.
We believe that we are in the very early stages of a post-PC world, and it is the neolithic age for wearables and connected devices. The next decade is going to bring some exciting and mind-blowing products that we cannot even imagine at this time. It’s an exciting time to be in the technology industry.