The Rise of Invisible Technology

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Let’s picture the whole experience of ordering a taxi service. Taxi cabs have been in the mainstream since the early 1900s. For almost a whole century, the usual norm would be to call the local Yellow Cab company or hail a passing cab on a street or, post-internet era, make an online reservation through the website of the local cab company.

When Uber went mainstream in 2011, the whole experience shifted from an analog / desktop channel to a digital mobile form factor that involved pushing a button on Uber’s mobile app to order the taxi service.

Amazon Echo (launched in 2015), further raised the bar by shifting this whole cab ride ordering experience from a mobile phone form factor to a conversational voice assistant. You could be comfortably seated in your couch and simply holler “Alexa, ask Uber for a ride” and Amazon’s echo device, lurking in some invisible corner, would get the job done.

The point is that technology is now rapidly becoming invisible and blending seamlessly in our daily lives. Immersive interfaces such as AR/VR combined with AI/ML, Robotics and 5G are rapidly blurring the lines between physical and digital world to enable hyper personalized, frictionless experience for the consumer. In the case of Amazon Alexa, it is enabled through convergence of Big Data, AI, Machine Learning, IoT, Cloud and a Smart Speaker – all manifested through a voice interface to deliver information and service in an intuitive manner.

Rise of such invisible technology is helping companies to reimagine the whole experience for their consumers across variety of industries – be it home buying, retail shopping, theme parks, tele-medicine, car driving, watching movies etc. More importantly, we, as consumers, don’t even notice the technology or think about it while going on with our life.

Brands that can create such deep, meaningful, immersive experiences by embedding technology seamlessly within our life (i.e. making the technology truly invisible to us) will set themselves apart from others. At the same time there will be an increased scrutiny on impact of such invisible technology on individual privacy and safeguarding personal information becomes extremely important. There needs to be strong cyber security defense around such technology to reduce vulnerability to hackers who can steal not just personal identity but would have the ability to hack into the user’s biometrics data.

Therefore, in order for companies and brands to be successful in winning consumer mindshare, in addition to launching state-of-the-art invisible technology devices that delight the consumer, brands will also need to focus on winning the public trust around the safety of their technology and the usage of personal data these devices will collect from the consumers. Those that succeed will disrupt the market!