The future of wireless is one where we are, in fact, less connected. That was the conclusion of Tim Rundle, an industrial designer from Conran and Partners, who was speaking at Cambridge Wireless’ annual conference last month.
While the usual debates about IoT, 5G, NFV – all the buzzwords! – seemed to throw up nothing radically new – bar the audience conclusion on the final day that, essentially, 5G was a massive waste of time (as one attendee said: “I’m not sure what 5G isn’t”) – the idea of disconnecting was probably the most forward-thinking proposal to come out of the event.
Tim emphasized that this was a bona fide consumer need, albeit one caused by popular wireless technology and applications that almost everyone in the room had contributed to in some way, and not some niche interest. Although his talk did start with a kicking the hornet’s nest feeling about it… “What could be more disruptive than us setting out to do the opposite of what we have all done for the past decade?”
As individuals, the direction of travel has very much been ever-increasing connectivity. We are always ‘on’, and more connected than ever before. Technology allows us to do so much, but consumers, it was argued, now feel consumed by the urgent need to pick up, tap, swipe, put down (repeat ad nauseam) as the stop-red notifications swarm the screens of our Smartphones/ iPads/ wearables.
This is borne out from one of the top App Store searches for ‘Moment’ – another app that tracks and quantifies your time, only in this case it’s how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. The app allows users to set daily usage limits on it, in order to ‘find a balance for the screens in your life’. Tim Rundle also pointed to Kickstarter where he suggested projects like Light Phone (now fully funded) prove there is a latent demand for the digital detox. Start-up Kovert is also setting out to do a similar thing.
So, where does this disconnection trend leave operators and other digital service providers, whose entire raison d’etre is connectivity? It’s actually a huge potential opportunity. Applications need to get smarter if they are going to enable us to interact with them in a way that is meaningful to us, and reduce the “digital noise”.
Smarter products and services that can intuitively learn about us, and generate output in a way that is optimized to us– that’s what the future for the connected individual looks like. But this personalized service provision relies on the processing of ever more complex data sets, if our applications are to understand who we are, what information we want and how we want it delivered.
With the connected consumer doing almost everything via their mobile phone, operators are in a unique position really make a difference here. They have valuable insights that they can share with third parties who want to develop these smarter products and services. Indeed, data-as-a-service is an area that many operators are already looking at, as they start to comprehensively harness the superior customer data they have stored in the network and via their BSS/ OSS.
As Tim Rundle concluded: “It is technology that has created this need, and now technology needs to help save us from itself.”
Now if you’ve finished reading be sure to like the post, comment below and share on your preferred social networks. And then – why not try switching everything off and just… stare out of the window for five minutes?
Disconnecting’s the Next Big Thing don’t you know!