A few weeks ago, the BBC’s Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones read my mind. I’d been trying to focus on the positives in the difficult and unfamiliar situation we all find ourselves in and this led me to wonder what things would have been like if COVID-19 had hit say 15, or even 10 years ago. The next day the BBC published this piece, exploring exactly that.
The things keeping many of us sane at the minute are video calls with family and friends, digital pub quizzes or virtual exercise classes, social media live stream cook-a-longs with famous chefs or our favourite restaurants. But 15 years ago, before the first iPhone had launched, when Facebook was only a year old and only used by US college students, and our beloved Instagram wasn’t even a pipedream – how different our lives were!
It doesn’t sound like a vast amount of time, but when you look at the evolution and development of consumer technology in the last 15 years, it poses the question – what should we expect in the next 15?
If this year’s CES was anything to go by, there are some weird and not so wonderful gadgets which we could see making their way into our homes in the next decade or so. There are, however, a number of slightly more practical technologies which look set to impact the lives of the average consumer before too long.
One of these technologies is autonomous vehicles which I’m sure we’ve all heard a lot about in the press, but it still seems like a long time until you can order a driver-less Uber. Nevertheless, the prospect of driver-less cars is very exciting and it seems certain that with some more refining they will eventually become mainstream, bringing with them cost savings, reductions in road accidents, and potentially revolutionary impact for industries including e-commerce.
For those of us that enjoy shopping but prefer the comfort of our sofa with a cup of coffee, augmented reality is on the horizon. The technology will enable consumers to pick up products, try on outfits, position a new table in their dining room, read allergy labels, ask questions and then finally make the purchase all using AR. Some are even predicting that Coronavirus will force the hand of retailers and accelerate the automation of the industry.
The smarter home
The ‘Smart Home’ is a phrase that has truly taken hold in recent years and the concept looks set to evolve in the coming decade as home technology advances and it becomes more affordable. You can already purchase fridges, washing machines and other appliances which are fitted with smart displays and sensors and some are even internet ready. There’s definitely a conversation to be had around what data big companies would gain access to and how we balance ethics with convenience, but I for one am looking forward to the days when my fridge can prepare me a ice-cold G&T as I finish work on a Friday.
While it may be doubtful that anyone really knows exactly what will happen in the next 15 years, if technology continues to accelerate at the speed it has for the past 15, then we’ve got a lot to look forward to!