Internet of Senses: A Look at 2030
Author: Francesco Arciello | Founder, CIO & CTO
This year, for work reasons, you were unable to return home to your loved ones who are currently thousands of kilometers away. You sit in the kitchen and start thinking about what kind of dinner you would like to organize with them. The room around you begins to change according to your wishes: Why not spend Christmas by the sea? You begin to hear the sound of the waves, feel the wind on your skin, and smell the salt. Everything is ready, but the guests are missing! You think to yourself create an invitation, and as your guests accept, avatars of friends and relatives begin to appear seated on the chairs. While waiting for the others to arrive, everyone starts ordering on an e-commerce platform that lets you taste what you buy. At this point, you can pay and start chatting with your friends.
We tend to seek the future in the present and vice versa. We think that what works perfectly in today’s society will also work well in the future if we slightly modify our behaviors or tools. This way of thinking is typical of a linear evolutionary growth, but it is no longer applicable because technological growth has reached an exponential rate. According to Moore’s Law, the processing capacity we can purchase for $1,000 doubles every 18-24 months.
In the seventies, evolution moved almost linearly in small steps. For example, we went from a relative performance of 0.01 to 0.02, then to 0.04, and so on. Today, however, we have come to have a relative performance of 4. The next exponential step will take us to 8, not to a more linear 5.
We now rely on external services on mobile devices (maps, wikis, searches, social networks, etc.) and, little by little, we are beginning to become digital copies of ourselves. The need to bring humankind and machine together to be more competitive has been made very apparent.
We live in a 4G world, but our interactions with technology occur only through sight and sound. The advent of 5G, combined with the creation of wearable devices, leads us to think that we will be able to interact with technological tools using all our senses in just 5-10 years. These are not only assumptions, but an actual extract from a study produced by Ericsson.
10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030
The brain is the user interface
“Thinking and doing” will have an increasingly blurred boundary – this is the forecast of a large number of consumers. Let’s imagine that we want to go to a nearby shopping center, so we think about the destination. Our AR glasses will then simply show us the way and where to find the products on our shopping list. This makes us think that keyboards, mice, games, and controllers will all disappear, and that smartphones will be without screens. A new market will open, and it will be dedicated to devices that we are not yet able to imagine.
The way we listen to, speak to, and understand others
Another great upgrade that many think we will receive is related to interaction via sound, such as ambient sounds that can be removed to hear a person talking to us on the subway. Ambient sounds could also be added, for example, to make our dinner by the sea even more suggestive and realistic. Another example could be talking to a person in a different language, creating bubbles of sound in which only a few individuals listen to a certain piece of music or audio content. 51% of people expect to have devices that transmit sound directly to our brains.
Taste and smell
Taste and smell are the two senses that personalize our sensory experiences to the maximum. Let’s imagine being able to taste dishes together with the MasterChef judges, or to try a product before buying it online. Taking this concept a step further, we discovered that consumers expect to be able to taste the flavor of our memories (44% of respondents), while another segment expects to be able to share the flavor of what they are tasting with their friends. As for the sense of smell, it is almost impossible to digitally convert it today. However, this fact could change at any time. 56% of respondents expect to be able to smell all the scents present in a film. In addition, we expect to be able to choose the smell we have toward others.
Touch and merged reality
Consumers expect to be able to touch anything digitally. Imagine partaking in a Formula 1 race, undergoing all the experiences of a driver, even feeling the vibrations, smells, and sounds. Or, you could virtually go to a concert and feel the effect of the bass on your skin. 62% of people think there will be a bracelet that stimulates the nerves, allowing them to feel the sensation of touching a certain object. The difference between online life and reality will converge and become indistinguishable by 2030.
Verify digital assets like real ones
Soon enough, everything will be verifiable in a secure way: faces, cryptocurrencies, news, and even songs. We will be able to exchange virtual objects and content without worrying about their nature. 46% of respondents think that dating sites in which all information is verified will become popular. 50% believe that fake news will be just a distant memory in 2030. In the real world, this will result in extreme traceability of every physical product. There are already virtual universes in which real parallel economies exist today. One of these places is Entropia Universe, an MMO where you can buy cars, ships, and even meteorites. You can also charge other users for visiting or for having private parties. For example, there are many planets in this universe, including Planet Calypso (which SEE Virtual Worlds bought for $6 million USD).
More stringent and sophisticated regulations are envisaged for the usage of public and private data. This legislative evolution will allow us to permanently erase all privacy concerns and use facial recognition virtually everywhere, even if this may seem to be a paradox. Post-privacy consumers expect every aspect of this matter to be resolved in order to enjoy all the benefits of a data-driven world. Automation and digitization will lead to a reduction in the price of products and services.
Affordable 3D printers, remote work, and remote medical assistance will all be commonplace in 2030. When it comes to sustainability, 6 out of 10 people think that the internet (with its new sense-based services) will allow us to reduce emissions. We will become online citizens in a digital world.
Consumers predict that services will be able to use all of their senses to digitize our daily life. The multi-sensory experiences will be used mainly in entertainment (historical reinterpretations, cinema, gaming, etc.) and for shopping. The concepts of workstation and workplace will be totally revolutionized, giving people the possibility to be present only virtually in their working life. 43% think that, in the future, it will be possible to take a digital adventure vacation by immersing themselves in another place or historical period. We are getting closer and closer to the Singularity every day. Now is the era in which human beings feel the need to compete with machines, and many of us wish to make human evolution converge with technology.
The future is one step away from us!