Future Technologies – The Inside Scoop From Silicon Valley with Rich Green
Trying to predict the next big thing in the world of technology is a tricky business. But there are plenty of signposts along this road that can at least point us in the right direction. One person who seems to already know the way on this journey is Rich Green – a legendary AV system designer, CEDIA member and futurist.
Green was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Integrate Expo where he presented The Inside Scoop From Silicon Valley. Green said that while it was a difficult time for system integrators there was also high hopes for emerging technologies including augmented reality and virtual reality. That’s even before we discuss tech like automation, energy management, big data, and managed services and the significant part it will come to play in our lives.
It’s one thing having the latest technology but making it easier to use and manage is actually quite complicated. Green predicts home automation to be the next major industry that will connect our technology to create scenarios where our surroundings react to what we do, what we need and when we need it. It could be turning on lights automatically when the front door is opened or sending a text message to a working parent when their child arrives home from school. We can already see the beginnings of this in Google Home and Amazon Echo.
This automation has moved beyond the home theatre and entertainment systems to the entire house. And our smartphones and the wireless networks that are in virtually every home have also played a large part in the proliferation of home automation products. These devices have become the remote control of our digital lives.
One benefit of home automation is efficiency and when that efficiency is applied to energy management it can save your average household and businesses thousands of dollars per year. A combination of sensors, timers and controls can easily tell when our lights, appliances and heating needs to be turned on and off and whether we’re even in the room.
Through our equipment, our mobile devices, IoT (internet of things) products and our wearables we’re creating mountains of data. Green predicts that big data will be a gateway for machine learning and make data preparation and predictive analysis even easier. Ecosystems such as Apple, Google and Amazon are already taking advantage of this and taking over, in fact, they’ve been planning this long before we even knew it was possible. As stated by Green, ‘Steve Jobs didn’t wait to connect the dots, he made the dots’.
This could easily lead to an increased level of autonomy in our homes – as well as on our roads with driverless cars also on the horizon. Green predicts that Amazon will know what you will buy and ship it to you before you buy it. Perhaps the only issue that could arise from big data is around privacy but controls and procedures are already coming in to place to make it even more impregnable.
While the introduction of wireless networks and smart devices has reduced the revenue possibilities for system integrators, there is still the opportunity for recurring monthly revenue through managed services. This could be data storage and backup, internet and communication services, network monitoring and all the way to media managed services.
Green didn’t forget to provide insight into what could be the most forward-facing technology that we will be seeing – in every sense of the word – augmented reality. The ability to add a layer of computer generated elements like sound, video and graphics to a real-world environment while looking through a camera lens will pervade numerous industries, entertainment, sport coverage, computing and games.
The Pokemon Go app was a worldwide sensation and shone a light on how effectively developers could combine the real world with the digital world. But when a company like Microsoft gets behind it you know it has a very bright future. Microsoft’s Hololens is a wearable computer that’s completely self-contained and with applications that can be used in education, industrial design and medicine. Hololens can bring 3D models to life and place data in your eyeline so it complements the real objects in your field of vision. It is already being used by Audi, NASA and Airbus but can be also be used to design applications for work or play.
We’ve been on the path of virtual reality for some time but recent developments in technologies like 360-degree cameras and affordable VR headsets has accelerated the take up. Virtual reality allows users to enjoy experiences that put them inside simulated environments. Watching a regular movie, we are looking through the “fourth wall” and are witness to the events unfolding in front of us. But with virtual reality we can become the centre of the action.
Hollywood is already onboard and creating original and supplementary content to give viewers a truly immersive experience. Recently 20th Century Fox, on the back of its successful film The Martian starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott, has released The Martian VR Experience for the PlayStation VR and HTC Vive which puts you on Mars and in the shoes of stranded astronaut Mark Watney as you explore the red planet. You might look a little silly to anyone watching you while you’re wearing the headset, but you will feel like you’re in another world.
When talking future technologies, creators are left asking themselves ‘how will this be profitable?’ Green stated that the incredible value of these technologies will come at a price. ‘Value will be delivered through simple design, the key to design is simplicity and you master simplicity with complexity. You master complexity by knowing the answer to all the questions’ – Rich Green.