It appears we are closer to emulating the futuristic lifestyles from television show The Jetsons now more than ever before. Technology experts are seeing a pretty significant shift in how employees use technology to perform their work. In the ever-evolving technology landscape, we are beginning to witness the next wave of embedded technology—a complex focus that might very well send the desktop computer to its grave. No longer are people working solely from their desktop or even mobile and tablet devices. Consumers are turning to technology that integrates and interacts with the human body. From Google Glasses to Intel’s Edison processor, how we work is shifting from static devices to portable thinking devices.
A belief that the desktop is “dead,” or at least close to becoming an after-thought, is due in part because it is not portable or wearable. Mechanically, the hardware and physical components are “too big” to fit in the pockets of on-the-go executives. Technically, consumers expect faster-than-fast processors to keep up with their information demands. Even though consumers may not be abandoning the desktop completely, there are some signs of its inevitable demise.
Consumers are attracted to tech devices that are miniaturized. The smaller, the better – same goes for faster and more efficient. All super computers have been reduced to the size of our phones, and most, if not all, devices are expected to be wireless with reasonable amounts of data speeds. Keeping tabs on the miniaturization craze, we see the desktop doesn’t necessarily fit this mold. We are seeing a shrinking of the necessary components that make up a desktop. Solutions like 6LowPAN (low powered IP sensors) have the ability to run for a very long time off of one battery, often for several years. Desktops struggle to keep pace, and with daily computer and software updates, users are finding such maintenance requirements to be a hassle. In addition, we are seeing smaller devices that hold all the components of a desktop in miniature format, like the Nest thermostat, a device that learns user’s habits over time and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Unlike the traditional desktop, miniature devices are designed to be more intuitive and in sync with the user experience.
For decades, bulky phones have been transformed to accommodate user’s desire to take their phone with them everywhere. Long gone are the brick cell phone days as Microsoft, Apple, and other tech companies compete to produce the next wearable form of communication. The technology devices on the market today integrate with the items we already use on a daily basis (glasses, watches, and rings) in order to enrich the human experience and on-the-go lifestyle.
Consumers are seeking a fluid way to access everything they need without the friction and bulkiness of hardware. What consumers really want are answers to their questions instantaneously so they can do things. For example, consumers don’t want to have to go to a certain app to find a restaurant. Technology like Google Glass skips all those steps for the consumer with its voice recognition capabilities and “right in front of you” information display. There’s no need to whip out a smart device to look up information when the device is already being worn and ready to use.
Embedded technology will bring us to a point where we can get information without having to stray too far from our face-to-face communication style. It’s not natural to look down at your phone or tablet during a meeting or conversation, and with a device like Google Glass, you don’t have to. The desktop simply isn’t capable of satisfying consumers’ need to communicate more personally.
As the desktop slowly fades away, and its components shrink into ever-smaller versions for use in embedded technology; we will see new innovations created for the greater good, including individuals with disabilities and the elderly. We are already seeing the medical industry making a big shift from desktop to embedded tech. As this technology becomes more acceptable and less ‘sci-fi’ to most people, the awkwardness will go away and it will become more and more available to the general public. Meanwhile, we will begin to see less use for the desktop. While there may always be an application for the desktop, it’s unrealistic to think that our world won’t soon will resemble an episode of The Jetsons before we know it.