Dis­ap­pear and mul­ti­ply

The fu­ture of per­sonal com­put­ing is di­min­ish­ing the per­sonal com­puter. The bet­ter your gad­gets get at their jobs, the more in­vis­i­ble they be­come...

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - Simon Din­gle

Ever ea­ger to coin terms, an­a­lysts are pro­nounc­ing “cog­nisant com­put­ing” as the next big thing in the evo­lu­tion of per­sonal tech­nol­ogy. It sounds very fancy, but it really de­scribes a fairly ob­vi­ous trend – that as your gad­gets get bet­ter, faster, cheaper and more in­tel­li­gent, they also spend less time in front of your face. What’s in­ter­est­ing is what be­comes pos­si­ble when this fun­da­men­tal shift in fo­cus hap­pens.

The de­vices them­selves are also fall­ing away into the back­ground of our en­vi­ron­ment. Wear­able com­put­ing is a de­vel­op­ing trend, but be­yond that are ideas of com­put­ers be­ing wo­ven into fab­ric, buried in the ground and lit­er­ally dis­ap­pear­ing from sight.

Re­search firm Gart­ner re­cently

pub­lished re­search in the field of cog­nisant com­put­ing and made the ob­ser­va­tion that while gad­gets are di­min­ish­ing in terms of vis­ual promi­nence, they are also mul­ti­ply­ing around us. Your big smart­phone has now re­placed other gad­gets like the GPS and pocket cam­era, but is reach­ing a pin­na­cle of con­ver­gence. If the an­a­lysts are right, it will be re­placed in the fu­ture by a col­lec­tion of smaller – much smaller – de­vices.

Michael Garten­berg, re­search di­rec­tor at Gart­ner said: “Cog­nisant com­put­ing evolves the con­nected de­vice and per­sonal cloud ser­vice into an ac­tiv­ity of seam­less and fric­tion­less in­te­gra­tion con­nected to sen­sor-driven ‘ in­vis­i­ble’ de­vices that are op­ti­mised for a par­tic­u­lar set of func­tions.”

As a re­sult, he added, ap­pli­ca­tions are now aware of ac­tion or in­ac­tion on the part of their own­ers and ul­ti­mately pro­vide a greater amount of rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion that can even­tu­ally drive be­havioural change.

We’ve seen de­vices like “smart-watches” on the mar­ket be­fore how­ever, but what makes the new gen­er­a­tion of cog­nisant com­put­ers spe­cial, say the ex­perts, is that they tie into a broader ecosys­tem for the user, whereas older de­vices tried to op­er­ate in iso­la­tion.

So the war cur­rently be­ing waged be­tween Google, Mi­crosoft, Ap­ple and other tech giants is less about in­di­vid­ual prod­ucts, or even sets of prod­ucts, and more about your life and the en­vi­ron­ment you live in. Fenc­ing that off will be big money.

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