This Week in Context (20140207)

By February 7, 2014 Week in Context No Comments

“Context-aware computing will create new consumer and business experiences,” is our major takeaway from Cisco’s annual TechRadar event. The report highlighted the potential of contextualisation to fundamentally change how we interact with our devices. As technology learns about you, your day, where you are and where you’re going, it’s going to be able to serve our needs better and faster. Interaction can be streamlined, and made a much more pleasant experience. Cisco’s Tarek Ghoul explains why context is a major building block for the next wave of innovations:

“Context is a disruption because it completely redefines the users’ experience and the way an IT system is built. We’re seeing a change from any content for any people at any time and anywhere, to the right information to the right person at the right time, at the right place and in the right way.”

Cisco also predicts that by 2022, person-to-machine and person-to-person combined connections will constitute 55 per cent of the total IoE value at stake. Machine-to-machine connections make up the remaining 45 per cent.  By then, practically everything – roads, jet-engine parts, shoes, refrigerators, soil, toothbrushes, and supermarket shelves – will have cheap, tiny sensors that generate terabytes of data that can be sifted for key insights.

The video contains the highlights of 2014 Tech Radar event, the full s90 minutes you can watch on the Cisco website.

The other big guys buying into context? There’s Dell, Yahoo & Intel too:

Business Insider reports on Dell’s research into ‘mood sensing’ computers such as Samantha in Her. Read the interview with Jai Menon here. Being mood-aware would allow technology to respond to your feelings more appropriately. Whilst Samantha responds to voice commands and conversation still, this could be taken one step further, towards thought-controlled computer interfaces.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is gearing up towards more context-aware intelligence as well, as they’ve acquired Incredible Labs, the company behind the now deceased (RIP) personal assistant Donna. We expect Yahoo Mail to become a bit more like Google Now.

And then there’s Intel. Through Intel Labs, the company is working on QS Sense-Making Too, an in-browser platform to help users make sense of their personal data. “The goal is to build a data analysis and visualisation toolkit that is accessible to the long tail of less technically-inclined self-trackers. Although this toolkit will support import from CSV/JSON files, we plan to integrate with several popular services to make the import process easier for our users,” their call for data on OpenPaths reads. The platform is currently in development, with the first production release scheduled for end-of-year.

Also this week in the context ‘n wearables scene:

  • Reqallabe‘s companion app for the Sony SmartWatch is now in beta, and available from the Google Play Store in the US. The app analyses your email messages and displays the parts you need to respond to, and sifts through your incoming mail to prioritise messages from important contacts. The app also keeps an eye on your calendar & the traffic conditions, so you know when it is time to leave for an appointment.
  • If Beats were to introduce ‘shower-sing-a-long optimised’ playlists, these would be the ideal match for the Mixie Showerhead’s Wireless Speaker. The water-resistant shower head definitely beats putting your smartphone near the shower, both on sound quality and phone-safety levels. Moxie connects with your smartphone using Bluetooth 4.0, and is detachable (you need to charge it once in a while), so you can also take your water-resistant speaker with you to the beach.
  • Apple has added the founder of the Philips Sleep Experience Lab to their iWatch team, fuelling further speculation that some kind of sleep tracker is being added to the mythical device. In September last year, Apple already snatched up Ben Shaffer, Nike’s lead FuelBand designer, and the company is still aggressively hiring a variety of health & sensor experts.

With all these cheap, tiny sensors generating terabytes of data, more and more devices being connected, and increasingly accurate and personalised ‘big data behavioural insights’ where is this all heading to? Better and more rewarding customer experiences overall, we believe. Famous game designer Jesse Schell pitched a slightly different future at DICE2010. Enjoy this retro-talk (part 1, part 2 & part 3), that combines good game design with the internet of things and sentient computing. This scenario of ‘ubiquitous advertising & customer loyalty schemes’ might just be the new digital marketeer’s wet dream. (Obviously, there’s such a thing as too much gamification. ;)) 

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