As technology continues to shrink and require less power, a very different future begins to come into view. Google’s Executive Eric Schmidt told attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos recently that soon “there will be so many devices, sensors [and] things that you are wearing, that you’re interacting with…you won’t even sense it, you’ll be interacting with it all the time.”
WiFi and microprocessors built into clothing that will completely change our experience of accessing and uploading information to the global Internet is only one part of this rapidly changing landscape. This same miniaturization and integration of seemingly everyday goods with technology will also extend to everyday consumer goods such as soap, shoes, and even the clothes and dish-washing machines that use the soap.
Laundry detergent could come with a sensor that sends an alert when almost out to your smartphone (or whatever replaces the smartphone) when you walk into a supermarket or just automatically order more to be shipped directly to your door. Other possibilities in this hyper-connected future include the laundry soap communicating with the washing machine so that the wash cycle can be optimized for that specific soap, all automatically.
This data of who is buying what will change the shopping experience in other ways. As a profile is built on what you are buying, as soon as you walk into a retail store, a set of personally targeted deals and special offers can be delivered to your mobile device. The music and TV identifying service Shazam, has already announced that it will begin working with retailers to provide this type of service via location tracking and Q-code displays.
Incorporating technology into a plethora of consumer goods is also in the interest of major corporations that can effectively use this consumer data. Google purchased Nest Labs in January 2014 for $3.2 billion. Nest manufactures thermostats, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that are equipped with wireless network capabilities. This feature allows users to adjust the temperature of their homes while away and get an alert should smoke or toxic gas be detected. The thermostat can also learn the habits of its users.