These 5 personal technologies will break away from the hype and disrupt your business: Gartner

Personal technologies such as wearables, immersive virtual and augmented reality, sensors such as those found in Internet of Things (IoT) applications and the next wave of mobile apps will soon have a major impact on every business, according to Gartner research vice president Brian Blau.

He says the following personal technologies “will break way from the hype” and prove to be an integral component in business over the coming years.

Oculus Rift virtual reality hardware

1) Immersive augmented and virtual reality

As was apparent at major technology shows like CES this year, device vendors and big platform owners such as Google and Microsoft are investigating how to exploit immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to expand the experiences associated with existing device categories (notably smartphones) and to find opportunities among new ones (like head-mounted displays).

While consumer adoption of VR outpaces enterprise adoption, AR is seeing business adoption first.

“The potential is huge in both consumer and enterprise environments,” says Blau. “An immersive user experience enables deeper workplace engagement and can open the door to behavior change,” says Blau.

For example, logistics giant DHL has been able to improve warehouse operations through the use of advanced wearable displays and augmented reality. Head mounted displays (HMDs) replace the use of handheld scanners and paper pick lists, improving efficiency, reducing errors and making the workplace more enjoyable.

Gartner predicts that by 2018, six billion connected 'things' will be requesting support.

2) Wearable devices

From head-worn cameras and displays, sensors and activity trackers to smart shoes and socks, wearables are expanding the body’s potential in business. The smartwatch will become mainstream and new solutions and platforms will drive enterprise adoption.

Gartner forecasts that annual sales of wearable devices will exceed 227 million by 2020, up from 88 million this year. Form factors will move from bulky to inconspicuous and usability will improve as devices begin to anticipate user needs and wants.

3) Personal IoT sensors

By the year 2021, one million new IoT sensor devices will be purchased every hour of every day.

New devices will open up new opportunities for business, for example, predictive maintenance and support for autonomous "things". Gartner predicts that by 2018, six billion connected “things” will be requesting support.

4) Virtual personal assistants and bots

Mobile app usage is stabilising. Downloads have plateaued as users stick with tried-and-tested apps.

But apps won't vanish anytime soon. Their interfaces will fade and new interaction techniques will take their place. Apps currently offer siloed interactions, but the next wave will offer an integrated experience, says Blaue.

Future apps will report to us via our virtual personal assistant (VPA), or apps will simply be hidden in the background, and their interfaces will be more seamlessly integrated into an overall flow of content.

The VPA will become the vital link for consumers and, later, business users to simplify access to their apps, data and content. Businesses should evaluate VPAs for their potential to provide better customer experience.

5) Advanced camera and vision technologies

In 2016 and 2017, Gartner expects cameras to remain a top differentiation priority for smartphone vendors. The incorporation of advanced autofocus, wide-angle lens and, above all, multilens capabilities to be a key trend this year, delivering new experiences.

There are many potential applications in the enterprise. For example, customer digital assistants in retail outlets will recognise individuals by face and voice across channels and partners, proving opportunities to enhance the in-store experience.

At the same time, consumer video consumption is at all-time high, especially on mobile devices. For the enterprise, the revolution in 360-degree and multilens cameras could improve collaboration through shared virtual surfaces and immersive remote meetings, while video and scene analytics will decode meaning and add more value to video content.

Instead of seeing consumerisation of technology as a force happening to the organisation, Gartner recommends taking a proactive approach.

“Set up a process for evaluating personal technologies and identify opportunities to improve workplace process and actions,” states Blau.

Cortana The Cortana digital assistant is one of Windows Phone 8.1’s standout features, delivering a blend of Siri and Google Now-like functionality wrapped in a delicious, oh-so-sassy personality. Once activated, Cortana can help you find things to do nearby, answer your questions, set reminders, and even help you plan your day. Cortana would be a stellar addition to Windows 9, especially given Windows 8’s lackluster voice dictation support. (The OS offers voice controls, but only as an accessibility option.) Virtual assistants have largely been left to phones, but their core capabilities would be just as useful on PCs and tablets. But please, please don’t leave the microphones constantly listening for commands. Clicking an activation button in the taskbar doesn’t take much effort.

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