Siri was featured on the iPhone 4s on October 14, 2011. If you’re like me, you were probably skeptical, wondering if Siri was much more than a parlor trick designed to grab a few more bucks from our pockets.
Fortunately, great technology cannot hide. Today, Siri, Cortana and other virtual assistants are used by millions of people each day for getting directions, making hands-free calls, dictating text messages, looking up information, and the list goes on and on. The truth is that the most useful new technology often kills older technology, quickly.
Do you remember those ancient GPS relics, TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan? From 2007 to 2011 it seemed like every other commercial was about one of these life-changing devices. My wife and I used to laugh about how kids today will never know what it was like to read a map. They will just plug the address into their Garmin GPS and away they’ll go. How wrong we were. Not about kids having to read maps, that’s definitely not coming back. No, we were wrong about people buying GPS devices.
Out of the blue, Apple and Google delivered a knockout blow to the car segment portion of the portable GPS business. In a 2012 Wired Magazine article, Apple, Google Just Killed Portable GPS Devices, transportation editor, Damon Lavrinc said, “If it wasn’t obvious before, it’s crystal clear today. The dedicated portable GPS device is dead, with Apple and Google playing pallbearer to Garmin, Magellan and TomTom’s hardware businesses.” Wow, and I really loved those funny TomTom commercials.
What happened and what is going to happen next?
Technically, the smartphone loaded with natural language processing and GPS software happened. From a non-technical perspective, the market spoke. Users would simply rather ask their phones for directions than stop their car and type them into a device.
So you’re sitting at home wondering about the next market-changing technology. If you ask me, it’s wearable health monitoring sensors. I know, you bought a Fitbit or Jawbone device only to find out that you really don’t care what your sleep patterns look like or how many steps you walked. After a month you threw it in your drawer to collect dust. I know I did. But that is nothing more than Siri having limited functionality when she was first introduced in 2011. Mark my words, we are on the cusp of wearable devices providing life-enhancing value.
A growing number of medical devices are becoming wearable, including heart rate monitors, glucose monitors, ECG monitors, sweat monitors, activity devices, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors. They are located in our shoes, clothes, and wristbands and they can reveal lots of data. Add powerful algorithms that translate sensor data and voice command interfaces that alert you to important health information and real life change is just around the corner.
Just imagine the possibilities.
Imagine that you wear a monitoring band that not only tells time but also monitors many of your key vital signs 24 hours a day. This wearable technology is seamlessly integrated with your smartphone and health records. Things really begin to change when you combine the wearable hardware with an Intelligent Virtual Assistant or Virtual Health Coach. Your virtual health coach alerts you to a possible irregular heartbeat and erratic breathing and immediately schedules an appointment with your physician. Your physician discovers that you have a blocked artery and are at risk for a heart attack and prescribes a minor procedure which avoids a major health issue later.
So much time, money, and health risks negated all because your IVA is connected to you. The virtual health coach and wearable technology possibilities are endless and mind-boggling, yet they are not far away!
Kevin Klinvex, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder at Select International, is a thought leader in organization-wide hiring and retention programs. His work, writing, and speaking focuses on combining powerful testing and assessment tools with the best in web-based delivery and data tracking.