While we’ll always be chasing the future, here today, we’re close.
I have multiple personal assistants, all in the cloud. I ask one, just by saying its name, to turn my lights on and off, play the news, and set alarms (Amazon Echo). I have another that sets reminders, tells me when I need to leave, and answers many of my questions (Apple Siri). I have “bots” always searching for new restaurants, and letting me know new places to try out, what I may like, and where I should go after dinner (Marsbot). I have another I talk to that’s looking over my finances, looking for ways to reduce monthly bills, and alerts me of my charges (trim).
I pay for many things with the tap of my phone or watch. Everything from a soda at a vending machine, on up to the most expensive shops (Apple Pay). Speaking of my watch, I have a personal assistant strapped to me at all times, trying to make me healthier (Apple Watch). This device is also water proof, and goes with me everywhere, including the pool. I’m connected anywhere and everywhere. And having a device that has moved from delicate to somewhat durable adds a further sense of connection with that device.
I’ve taken 360° photos and videos during trips and shared them back with family and friends (insta360) — some even viewing with VR headsets (Google Cardboard). You can now for almost nothing immerse yourself in full worlds and places you’ve never been before. I’ve demoed a number of VR/AR solutions where I’ve been in mechs, cars, tanks, and inside movies (Oculus Rift / Hololens / Vive).
My house tries to keep me comfortable, at the same time trying to save energy (nest). I can also manage my house while I’m away: temperature (nest), lights (wemo), and security (nest cam). My lights go on at dusk and off before bed (IFTTT).
If I lose something, I can have my mobile device ping it in the house (tile), and if I lose my device I can ask an assistant (Amazon Echo).
I’ve driven in a car where it drove itself, without human intervention (Telsa). My car talks to my mobile device (automatic), to keep it updated with gas milage, location, and any issues I have with my car.
My kiddos instantly communicate over video with a number of family members all over the world (facetime). They watch other kids play video games (youtube), and play games with other kids (Wii U, PS4). They also search the real world for fictional animals and see them overlaid onto our world (Pokémon Go).
Some of this reminds me of that ride at Disney: Carousel of Progress, and if you remember that ride, something was always breaking…
And many of these tools are actually low cost (Echo Dot is $49 now), or free (many of the bots) — and could be used for the masses, but it’s still many times a frustrating experience.
As with anything, most of this works well enough, but it’s not seamless. That’s what we’re getting wrong. There is “experience breakage” everywhere.
The setups are hard. Natural language is not quite good enough, and you have to learn new commands. Family members need to be on the same type of devices, VR needs a powerful computer, connecting different IoT devices is a bit of a chore, etc…
It takes time for the value to present itself for any new experience. And time to work out any issues. Apple is just now trying to solve for TV in a different way with its new “TV” app, and the Apple TV has been on sale since 2007. That’s a long experiment.
I’m expecting new homes to have their own versions of CarPlay in the next 5 years, where Siri is built into your home (ready for mics everywhere!), WeMo/Homekit directly into your plugs. Then it starts to become seamless. Once the legacy is removed, it’s easy. Once Daydream catches up with the Vive, and you can use your phone for the same experience, then it’s accessible. Once my Apple Watch realizes I’m driving and can’t stand up right now, once Siri answers every time — while remembering what I said to it moments before, then I’ll have full trust over the experience.
It’s no wonder people don’t trust cars that drive themselves. When my phone crashes, when something is unavailable, when something is hacked — that erodes my trust in everything.
I’m excited about the future, that’s why I’m an early adopter for almost everything, I want to fund the future, and the promise of a seamless experience across devices and locations. I’m looking for the value these experiences could bring to my life: time, convenience, safety, and connections to others. That’s the promise I think we’re all looking for.
While this future on paper sounds pretty amazing, in real life it’s still a little clunky… for now.