There is a scene in Daniel Suarez’s book Daemon where one of the main characters hacks into a security network for the video feed and puts it up on his heads up display glasses. The result is the equivalent of X-Ray vision. In fact in some ways the result is better than the X-Ray vision we have dreamed of since Superman Comic Books because the feed from the security system may provide better view angles and could include sound. Technology often produces the futuristic things we imagine in ways we never could have imagined.
We can now deposit checks into our checking accounts by taking pictures of them with our phones. Our phones can translate for us, navigate for us, and perform many other tasks that not long ago were only comic book dreams. The pace of this innovation is accelerating with incredible new tools introduced every day. We have been dreaming about time saving tools that free us from mundane tasks ever since the first home of the future exhibit at the world’s fair.
Anything helping us buy stuff has to be on the top of the list because commerce is driving this innovation. Here in the US, we spend $450 billion a year on groceries at 65,000 grocery stores – so I am guessing that even though we are all tired of predictions of refrigerators that make our shopping lists for us – I bet there are many people out there working to build tools to take the pain out of the weekly trip to the grocery store. Just like with the X-Ray vision in the book, I am guessing the solution will not come from the place we expect. In fact, I think all of the parts are in place for system that would build my grocery list for me and at the same time increase my loyalty to a brand by 10x. Very simply it would mine my supermarket loyalty card database and:
- Suggest my shopping list for me
- Organize the list by store lay out
- Suggest things that I don’t usually buy
- Suggest recipes from the ingredients I usually buy
- Offer savings…
It is the home of the future system without having to have a PC in my refrigerator and scan every item in my pantry. Properly executed, I would never shop at another store.
This same scenario exists in just about every business. I have to think that the businesses that give back data to their customers and give them the tools to manage that data more effectively will break out of the pack because their customers will be more loyal and they will get a dramatically increased share of their customer’s business.