The 3 Sheep gang recently went on a geek pilgrimage to the Gadget Show Live 2012 at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. With the exception of kamikaze RC helicopters (immense fun), at first glance we were a tad underwhelmed, with very little tickling our collective ovine fancy. In blackjack terms the mood seemed to be stick when we were looking for twist. Digging a little deeper however, all was not as it first seemed and there was some very upbeat stuff happening.
The most popular exhibitors were offering innovations that interfaced into existing smartphones and perhaps most notably iPad (other tablets are available, apparently). These devices were being used to offer richer experiences in areas such as music production and photography. The same existing tech was also being used as controllers for household and hobby items – turning the lights on and crashing toy helicopters to you and I. There was a definite emphasis on participation – getting involved and creating rather than sitting back on the couch waiting to be entertained. Think of it as digital made physical, as we’ve discussed before.
There seems to be a growing message from consumers along the lines of ‘I don’t just want my tech to be a gadget, I want it to do helpful, useful stuff.’ This may take the form of rocking out, making and recording music more easily or editing photos whilst on the move. It probably also means innovating with the current tech to work more productively, with greater speed and agility, leaving more time to erm… crash toy helicopters.
While none of this may be particularly newsworthy to the geeky or fashion conscious minorities (I consider myself to be proof the two are not mutually exclusive), it is exciting because what we are beginning to see is the wider adoption and application of smartphone and tablet tech in the mainstream. This will provide more innovation and revenue opportunities for businesses. We need to ask, ‘what exactly can the existing tech do?’ We should be prepared to take this tech to the edge in doing so, crashing a few more helicopters along the way. This is where the next wave of exciting, innovative stuff will come from.
So no ‘new’ is good ‘news’ then. It means we push the current tech to the limit to deliver the requirements of users of these increasingly mainstream devices; devices that can do so much more than crash toy helicopters.