Since the dawn of man, convenience has been the most common factor in the creation of advancements and societal progress. Perhaps, it is simply the human condition to want to develop more convenient ways to accomplish the same tasks we have done for centuries, or maybe we simply want to achieve more than we have in the past. No matter what the reason is, these advancements continue to grow and shape a brighter future for our world each and every day.
However, although the “convenience technology” market has been around for decades, each and every year, the tech industry introduces technological innovations more advanced and unique than the last. With this said, for 2017, five trends in the market reign supreme ranging from the way we drive all the way to the way we speak with one another. By looking at these trends, it may be possible to predict the future of the convenience technology market and utilize this information as tech professionals to be at the forefront of these trends as they transform and advance over time.
Autonomy in Technology
The first autonomous vehicle was designed in the 1500s by Leonardo Da Vinci and was ultimately a self-propelled cart which was powered by two symmetrical springs. Then, in 1933, the “Mechanical Mike” aircraft autopilot was invented which allowed it’s creator, Wiley Post, to both navigate and fly at the same time.
From there, myriad different autonomous vehicles and forms of technology began to sprout up, leading to the 2015 Tesla autopilot cars which not only modernized the autonomous car but also raised the question of whether or not it was possible to create a completely autonomous transportation industry in the future.
According to a study by The Center for Internet and Society, human error is the explanation for over 90 percent of car accidents across the globe. With this said, the autonomous car market has continued to grow since 2015 with over 44 corporations working on autonomous vehicles as of 2017. In fact, the market has grown so significantly that it is projected to be worth 7.84 million units by 2021 and growing.
So, what is the setback which is currently hindering these corporations from making autonomous vehicles readily accessible to the masses? Unfortunately, despite the fact that, after reviewing the pros and cons of driverless cars, there isn’t much to be concerned about, there are still many individuals that believe these vehicles could be dangerous due to the fact that they would not only eliminate human error but also human inference. The main fear is that this could lead to multiple deaths yearly as these cars would assess the risks in swerving versus the risks in hitting objects — and potentially choose hitting the object over moving out of its way.
With this said, many people wonder if the cars will be able to discern the difference between saving your life and that of a small child who stumbles into the road. Furthermore, many others are concerned that the car would be solely logical and could potentially choose sacrificing its owners over causing the deaths of others. Although this may seem ideal as one life is not worth two or more, some owners believe self-preservation is far more important than autonomous convenience.
However, when reviewing this information, it is clear that the yearly car accidents and death rates would significantly decrease with the inclusion of autonomous cars on the roads, and the likelihood of sacrifices being made in such a drastic manner would be little to nothing as it is proposed that these cars would ultimately be smart enough in the future to notice the crashes or disasters before they are forced to resort to those kinds of measures.
Furthermore, as the first autonomous cars are being tested nationwide, the conversation has transitioned into what the countless opportunities are regarding these amazing vehicles. From drastically reducing transportation costs and truckers being far more safe and well-rested on the road all the way to flights that are no longer delayed due to understaffed airplanes and bad visibility, the opportunities to incorporate this smart technology into multiple modes of transportation are truthfully endless. With this said, this is just one of the many ways that the convenience technology market is truly making an impact on our world and the future of it.
With time becoming such a valuable aspect of modern society, being able to create systems that make average daily tasks quicker and easier to perform allows us to save the precious time we once wasted and put it towards the things we feel actually matter, such as our careers, families, and pastimes. However, in 2017, this convenience and efficiency has reared its head in many ways, and it can sometimes be difficult to nail down just one or to analyze the pros and cons of these advancements.
However, when it comes down to the case of self-service technology, the debate is alive and well; the future of both our job industry as well as our tech industry may very well be on the line. The truth is that self-service technology is highly effective, relies on far less money and variables to be consistent, and makes many of our everyday tasks far easier and quick in the long run. However, some people believe that incorporating this technology in the hospitality industry could lead to a decrease in available jobs over time and take out the personal touches only a human employee could give to guests. On top of this, even more believe that the use of self-service kiosks will not only keep the minimum wage at its current low but possibly decrease it with time.
In fact, according to the former president and CEO of McDonald’s USA, Ed Rensi, “The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing … Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touch-screen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk.”
However, these kiosks are extremely efficient and function in a very similar manner to any app on a cellphone might. On top of this, this reduces the rushes these employees once faced, as it makes it easier for cashiers to run food and makes it easier for cooks to know what the guests want likewise. Furthermore, with AI becoming a viable source for self-service technology as well, it is quite possible that, through big data, these machines could even make inferences and provide the personal touches these individuals find so lacking in current forms of self-service tech.
However, with the restaurant industry set aside, perhaps, one of the most significantly impacted industries will rather be the hospitality industry. In fact, a perfect example can be found at Japan’s Henn na Hotel where robots and self-service reign supreme. Granted, the technology is more comical at this point in time than anything else, but it is still a great way to see just how effective even the most ineffective technology can be in the hospitality industry, as the robots run the entire show themselves from check-in to check-out. With this being said, it is clear that self-service is a universal crowd-pleaser in the hotel industry. It makes it possible for guests to arrive later in the night, check themselves in so as to skip any lines, and get up to their room in a swift manner.
The main reason this is ideal is that it means that frequent travelers would finally be able to avoid some of the most annoying aspects of travel and simply be able to complete an automated process in order to get into their hotel rooms, finish their work, and head home. Furthermore, these kiosks can also help the hearing impaired as well as be programmed to know countless languages which can make the check-in process easy for far more individuals from across the globe. Because of these reasons, despite the fact that the kiosks could potentially take jobs away from individuals, the pros certainly outweigh cons, and, more than likely, it would actually mean less work for the same wages, based on the current market.
Although this may not come as a surprise to most individuals involved in the tech world, the business industry and convenient technology industry are two of the most perfectly intertwined industries. The idea that work can be easier through advancement is certainly not a new one but has rather been the precipice of business-related technology for quite some time, and any technology has been proven to be effective when manipulated into the business setting. From virtual reality data visualization like IViz that allows us to take our big data to the next level all the way to user-friendly web development and design like magento development that helps create engaging sites such as Visit California, the advancements that have been made through the need for more convenient alternatives to everyday business tasks are immense.
In fact, according to Techvera, “CIO Magazine conducts an annual State of the CIO survey and gathers data to compile an average spending budget across numerous companies. For 2013, it found that the average IT budget, as percent of revenue, is 5.2%. This is a slight increase from the 2012 average, which was 4.7%. Overall, businesses seem to spend between 4-6% of their revenue on IT, and this range is recommended by CIO Magazine.”
Although autonomy in transportation and convenience in travel both significantly affect business in a positive way, one of the most affected aspects of the business industry is data analysis. Data analytics have not only evolved with the introduction of conveniences like virtual and augmented reality (in order to view and analyze large datasets), but also have been given multiple different ways to plug in data into various software and receive particular statistics and suggestions based on said data that would otherwise take days to analyze by hand. With this said, it is clear that the data analysis industry is one of the most affected by new convenience technologies.
Remote and Secure Transactions
Businesses have always sought for better and faster ways to sell their products, and the internet has supplied them with just that for years now. By removing many of the variables that all too often lead to a no-sale situation, such as bad customer service, distance to the nearest store location, and time to think about said transaction when in the store and in line, you provide both the company and the user with a quick and efficient way to complete transactions.
However, recently, there has been a tremendous amount of identity theft cases leading to a certain consumer fear of relaying information on the web such as credit card details or home addresses. This, ultimately, has led to far less transactions being completed online and is rather absurd due to the fact that most modern companies understand how to have secure payment systems and provide their consumers with just that as they head to check-out.
Despite this, the need to create a remote and secure transaction process still remains, and, with technology constantly advancing, it may soon become possible for companies to use systems such as fully homomorphic encryption in order to not only provide security but sheer impenetrability as a whole. With this said, the opportunities to even further expand the online business market are practically endless. In fact, many companies, such as Gumtree, even market more heavily during Christmas time with articles such as “Quirky Christmas Gifts from Gumtree” due to the fact that Christmas shopping lines can be a complete and total pain, and online shopping completely eliminates these pain points whilst still retaining the deals and items the store provides. In the end, this online convenience not only provides consumers with an easier way to receive and purchase goods but also benefits the companies tremendously by making their products accessible to anyone and everyone.
With convenience technology playing such a vital role in our society, it is no surprise that even our social interactions are dictated by said tech. From a deep reliance on social media as well as a need for technology to be incorporated in every aspect of our lives, even the most bland parts of life have become heavily influenced by it. For instance, Instagram has become a major hub for people to share pictures of their meals with which, although it may seem normal to our modern society, is actually a fairly strange social interaction to have. After all, past generations did not share menial aspects of their lives in such a way, yet the ability to have a camera and a connection to the rest of the world at all times has made us want to share anything and everything.
In fact, according to a recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, although the vast majority of our society utilizes social media primarily to talk with other people including our loved ones, we are actually incredibly lonely. Perhaps, the reason for this is due to the fact that humans crave human connection and touch, and technology simply cannot provide this — no matter how hard it tries. However, social media has also made it possible for us to share current affairs, become a more informed society, and even know about events as they are happening which, in the past, was practically impossible without the news reporting about it.
In this sense, social media has significantly affected our world in a positive way and made us a more connected society as a whole. However, it is important that we don’t forget our primal needs for human connection.
Furthermore, with such a dependence on technology in every aspect of our lives, it has even become quite common for technology to not only be taught in curriculum such as STEM programs but also be used to teach students various difficult subjects in a far more fun and engaging way. A perfect example of this is game-based online learning that takes classes which many students fail each and every year in college and turns them into fun, interactive games. These games reward students for correct answers and make both the testing and the learning process far more engaging overall.
In the end, there are multiple trends currently expanding upon the convenient technology market, but these five are certainly at the forefront and contenders for the best advancements our generation will have to offer our world. After all, technology is a way for us to bridge gaps and create paths that are easier and quicker than ever before. Why not take this concept and fly with it, so we can see what kind of a future our world has in store?