Nicholas Negroponte: A 30-year History of the Future

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab, pushes the edge of the information revolution as an inventor, thinker and angel investor.

In this TED talk, Negroponte recounts the last 30 years of technology. He highlights his predictions from the 1970s and 80s that were originally dismissed, but are ubiquitous today. He also leaves us with a fascinating prediction – we will ingest information through our blood stream in the future.

Ingestibles are especially intriguing to me because it’s a technology that has the potential to be transformational. We are moving from a world where we carry technology, to a world where we wear technology, and more recently to a world where we can now ingest it. At this point, I don’t think we’re far off from Negroponte’s prediction becoming a reality.

READ ALSO: Fitness Wearables Not Fit For Your Wrist

In fact, healthcare-focused ingestibles have already hit the market. The FDA-approved Proteus pill uses a one-square-millimeter sensor to transmit important information about your health to your doctor or family member. Upon swallowing, the sensor is activated by electrolytes within the body. The pill then transmits a signal to a small patch worn on your torso and sends the data via Bluetooth to a designated smartphone.

When you think of this pill by itself, it may seem like a novelty, but when you consider the strides made in wearables and ingestibles along with the convergence of consumer products and specialized medical devices, it’s inevitable that we’re going to experience a structural change in our healthcare system.

I want to hear your predictions. How do you think ingestibles will be used in the future?

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The Future of the Internet of Things

Earlier, I discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) impacts the way we learn, work and innovate and posed some questions about the future of IoT.

The first question was: How can we link interactive and personalized digital experiences with these millions, billions and trillions of inanimate objects to create the Internet of ALL Things?

Most of the things in the world around us are not IT enabled, and probably will never have compute, storage and networking embedded.  Think about the things you buy on a supermarket shelf – a bottle of wine or a box of cereal.  Consider all the paper products we still interact with – the 50 trillion pages that are printed every year as office documents, magazines, books or billboards.  And don’t forget about all the inanimate objects we manufacture or will increasingly 3D print in the future.

Now more than ever we need to humanize technology and make it more tangible, more intuitive and more immersive. We need to harness technology so it works for us – automating the mundane, enhancing our capabilities and creating new, richer experiences for us.

At HP we’ve developed a platform called HP Link that enables many of the inanimate objects around us to have digital services associated with them. This will allow someone to embed digital information into anything printed or made, and then control what happens when that link is activated through a phone, another device or wearable.  More importantly, it will allow that digital experience to change over time based on the user’s context.

So imagine you’re shopping for a new printer. While in the store you could point your phone at the product packaging, and get demos and product information to help you make a purchase decision.  Then if you buy the product and take it home, you might get installation and product tip videos instead, because your context is different. You’re now the product owner, not a potential buyer.

Soon the things we touch, see and sense will interact with our digital worlds in a much more seamless way. At HP we call the fusing together of our physical and digital worlds, Blended Reality.

And if you think of Blended Reality as the fusing of our physical and digital worlds, IoT is a poster child example of how this works. IoT is all about sensing our physical environment and the things in our physical world. We then pull that information into the digital world, where it can be analyzed, and we can then use the results of that analysis to act back on the physical world, to turn on our lights, to direct the flight patterns of our planes, and to enhance our experience in the physical world.

Next, I posed this question: What ecosystems, platforms and design principals need to be developed to deliver end-to-end IoT experiences?

I believe IoT is so much more than just connected things, and it needs an integrated technology stack to implement, from devices to services.  This technology stack is complex enough that no single company can do it all, and an ecosystem of partnerships is needed to deliver end-to-end solutions and services to customers.  In other words, building an ecosystem around your offering becomes critical to success.

Platforms also become strategic because there are many different device/service combinations. You need a platform strategy to leverage your investments, and to be able to reuse technology components to go after multiple verticals and opportunities.  You also need something to build an ecosystem around, and this is why you see so many companies opening up their platforms, to attract developers and innovation around their offerings.

But to really reap the full potential of IoT, we will need to move beyond standalone platforms and closed ecosystems.  If we want to move to a fully-interconnected world, from things on the Internet, to an Internet of Things, we will need to figure out a way to enable an open, interoperable environment where all of these devices and services can plug and play, and where services we haven’t even dreamt of yet can be easily implemented within existing markets, or more interestingly, across market and industry boundaries.

We also need to design compelling experiences for end-users, whether consumer or commercial. IoT services that touch human beings need to be designed with the human experience front and center.  Experiences that are immersive, contextual and enjoyable.

Now that you’ve heard my thoughts on IoT, how do you think IoT experiences will impact our every day lives? Leave your comment below.

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Infographic: The Internet of All Things

The Internet of Things impacts the way we learn, work and innovate. This Postscapes Infographic is worth sharing because it tells the almost complete story of the Internet of Things (IoT) including how smart, connected systems are a technologic phenomenon with infinite possibilities of interactions and experiences.

I say almost because while it does a great job of highlighting smart things it doesn’t take into account that a large portion of the things we interact with each and every day do not have sensors, computer chips, storage and connectivity. And they likely never will.

From wine bottles and cereal boxes on your grocer’s shelf, to magazines at your Doctor’s office, to the printed CAD drawings and quarterly review on your office desk, to new 3D-printed parts and collectibles, non-wired things are all around us.

How can we link interactive and personalized digital experiences with these millions, billions and trillions of inanimate objects to create the Internet of ALL Things?

What ecosystems, platforms and design principals need to be developed to deliver end-to-end IoT experiences?

The building blocks of IoT will enable today’s makers to build new applications, products and services that will cross-location, markets and industries to deliver richer more immersive, context-aware user experiences.

They will awaken the entrepreneur, tinkerer and maker in each of us.

I’m enjoyed talking about innovations like these at the IoT Global Innovation Forum on Wednesday. While the maker’s spirit has been around forever, the tools of expression have evolved radically, paving the way to a renaissance era of innovation that will change the business and social landscape a few years out in ways we can’t even imagine today.

How do you think the Internet of Things will impact our every day lives? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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