Imagine waking up on a Monday morning in the year 2025 to the sweet voice of your digital assistant called Leyla. Leyla already woke you up 10 minutes early as she just learned from the Google Connected living home black box that syncs her with the outside world and all the devices at home that the M25 (the orbital ring road in London that some also call the city’s largest car park) is slow on junctions 10 and 11 due to an accident. As you walk into the shower, the bathroom mirror displays your day’s schedule and reminds you to have your daily nutrients, as well as not to forget the blood pressure pill, as the sensor in the seat-belt of your car yesterday measured your blood pressure on the high side. As you walk through the house, everything is ubiquitously connected, smart and intelligent. The coffee machine is ready to make your espresso; the fridge is displaying you are running out of milk; the laundry was done, as the washer now washes and dries during off peak hours, and the heating set itself to switch off when you left the home. Not to mention your electric car did an automatic over-the-air annual maintenance update and was wirelessly charged to your daily commute, and you could listen to the same music album you played at home as all your entertainment now sits in the cloud. Everything, and I mean everything, around you will be connected in 2025, and all of this is just the start.
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Connected Living describes a world in which our homes, work, and city are all seamlessly connected through multiple intelligent devices that integrate video, voice, and data services to provide access and ubiquitous connectivity anytime and anywhere. What this means is that we will have new styles of living and working singularly and collaboratively. We will no longer access work from desktops connected to data centers, but from a virtual user interface with downloadable content from the cloud. Concepts like flexible working, zero holidays (literally means you take holidays when you want), and zero emails will be commonplace. Enterprise communication (telepresence, unified messaging, remote desktop access), Enterprise social networking (web based collaboration tools, mobile based virtual outsourcing, cloud based synching and sharing), and mobile workforce will be common terms used at work. In essence, this will enable a new approach to access your office infrastructure and a mobile team, which is location and time independent.
Connected living will be a reality only when we have a connected city and connected governance. We therefore will see governments leading with eServices, including eAdministration and eSecurity. Our transport will be digitally connected; and using smartphones, we will be able to make door-to-door integrated, multimodal journeys with one digital ticket. Our education system will likewise be digital through blended learning (a mix of classroom and eLearning) finally grained into our centuries old education system. Our medical services, banking, insurance, and all daily essentials of our society will be interconnected and interdependent; and in many cases, essential services will be accessed solely through connected platforms.
This “Internet of things” will bring huge opportunities for growth. A Frost & Sullivan study values the market — comprising of connected home, work, and city solutions — forecast to be worth $731.70 billion by 2020, with the connected city segment accounting for over 50 per cent of the revenue. This opportunity will usher new competition into the market, and the early movers will take one of three approaches: a single purpose solution, a partnership alliance, or a broad platform-based offer. For example, the smart thermostat Nest (whose parent Nest Labs was recently acquired by Google), is a single purpose solution. It can be linked to sensors in a cot, thereby making sure the room temperature is regulated according to the baby’s body temperature. Furthermore, partnership alliances are being formed between different providers — Fitbit, a wearable device to track fitness, sends notifications to Ocado, a home shopping service, to incorporate food to your diet that will ensure your calories are regulated according to your fitness regime. A platform-based offer has been launched by Deutsche Telekom partnering within EnBW, eQ-3, Miele, and Samsung — the Home Base uses Wi-Fi to create a network between various devices, such as a television, washing machine, or central heating thermostat. Telefónica Digital, in turn, partnered last year with Streetline, a specialist in Smart Parking end-to-end solutions, and Libelium, a developer of M2M Smart Cities sensors, to create an open ecosystem enabling town councils, urban service providers, and entrepreneurs to develop the “Smart City”.
Also, the market might also develop differently in different regions of the world. In the US, surprisingly, security companies and the security aspect of the connected home offering is being better accepted with companies like AT&T and Comcast, highlighting the safety & security aspect of their home management systems. Utilities in the UK, like British Gas, have been successful in appealing to people having more visibility when it comes to their energy consumption following some widespread public concern about high energy bills. Google’s purchase of Nest Labs could therefore be the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons that the “Internet of things” needs. Google seems to be the player with its fingers in the most pies owning various futuristic companies and technologies such as: smartphone operating system (Android), self-driving cars, robots, fiber-optic internet services, to name a few which could give them a head start. However, the companies to watch out for, in my opinion, are the mobile telecom operators and the battle that will be fought will be something similar to Google vs Deutsche Telekom.
Facebook bought a billion of us together to communicate seamlessly with our friends and family using one platform. Connected living will do the same and integrate all the different silos of our lives into one enjoyable and flawless experience.
Given where connectivity is heading, you will wonder what is left in your life that is not connected. One thing for sure — it will be a luxury in the future to not be connected.
Thanks to contributions from Frost & Sullivan analysts and consultants working on this subject.
Sarwant Singh is a futurist and thought leader in the Automotive and Transport area. He is well known for his research on Mega Trends and has pioneered the “Macro to Micro” approach of identifying uncontested market space opportunities across industries.