Remember the Jetsons? The idea that robots and machines would do all the work for you while you can enjoy your life? Walking around the grounds of SXSW, one begins to think that something went awfully wrong. The machines are not here to serve us anymore, we’re serving and working for the machines. We’ve become slaves to the machines. The obsessive trap of compulsive loop systems like Email and Twitter keeps us busy engaging with the machines while we spend less time engaging with real-life humans.
Noisy technology has made us less human, less focused, less engaged with real people, problems and challenges.
Calm technology will get out of the way, let us live our lives as humans, unobstructed by technology and the need to push buttons all day. With calm technology, actions become buttons; invisible interfaces trigger interactions. Calm technology is just there, it works but it doesn’t require you to be glued to a device.
Just imagine: You geofenced multiple locations that you pass by each and every day. (Geofencing enables your actions to serve as buttons by creating persistent background locations that quietly track your every move.) While you leave the house, all unnecessary electronic items and lights will be switched off immediately. Since your work is only 10 minutes away, the geofence triggers the coffee machine to start up at your office and the computer to be turned on and ready for your arrival. (This example comes from Amber Case’s keynote at SXSW.)
It gets much deeper than that.
Imagine a device that records everything you do. It registers all the music you listen to, tracks each and every moment, knows who you interacted with, records when you work out and how intense, tracks your sleeping patterns, your food consumption, the quality of air you breathe – basically it tracks anything you do and encounter.
You already have that device in the palm of your hand most of the day. All above sounds a bit creepy because you’re afraid to share of the information with a third party. What are they going to do with that data? Increase your health insurance premium because you stopped at a burger joint once a week, didn’t work out enough and lived in smoggy conditions for 60 days a year? The scenario loses its creepiness when third parties don’t have access to it because you own the data. You control who has access to it.
How valuable would it be for your physicians to be able to access all your health data and provide you with better remedies to improve your health?
How fascinating would it be to explore your real-life social graph and encounters, the ones that’s tracked by your smartphone?
What amazing insights could we gather from all of our consumption habits and how to change them over time?
The majority of the data is already being collected. We don’t have access to it, private vertical silos do. Once we take real ownership of this data, we can really put that data to use. Currently, we create all this data to get incrementally more relevant advertising. Nice to have but nothing that changes my life dramatically. What will change lives is gathering this data in the background and putting it to important use: Health, Work, Entertainment, Education – you name it. That’s the revolutionary idea of VRM.
The future is not about being chained to the machines, feeding their insatiable appetite for data. The future is about integrating technology to improve lives, making our world a better place. That was always the idea, wasn’t it?