Tech’s Failure in 2013

By and large, I think 2013 was a terrible year for consumer-facing technology. Although these failures have set a foundation for what I think will be a banner year (2014) for how technology shapes our lives going forward. But let’s first start with a things that fell flat on their face this year…..

1.) Mobile Accessories (Example: Samsung SmartWatch)

I think the SmartWatch was only a stepping stone towards a seamless, always connected interaction with technology that is really the end goal of technology. For me personally, I think it would be nice to not have to check my phone, leading to me constantly pulling my phone out of my pocket to make sure I’m up-to-date on all forms of communication (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, texts, Snapchats, etc.).

Capitalizing in 2014: Google GLASS has many doubters and skeptics, with good reason. But the more these mobile accessories fail to address the real issue, the more GLASS will be a necessity. Technology should be an integrated part of our day to day, not a separate experience like it is today. And apps like this would be cool. I do think that mobile accessories like a SmartWatch would be a better fit for Google GLASS owners for times you can’t wear GLASS or don’t feel like wearing it.

2.) Wearable Tech (Example: Fitbit, Jawbone)

Again, I think what was put out on the market this year is definitely a stepping stone towards what the “Quantified Self” movement will be. Despite the popularity of these wearable wristbands this year, all I hear from their owners is how imperfect they are. I’ve never bought one because of that fact. But the excitement of collecting data on yourself is really the driver sales for these products today.

Capitalizing in 2014: Athos is leading the next generation of the “Quantified Self”. Athos has created Under Armor-like clothing that helps transmit EMG signals that allows the system to collect and analyze data in real-time. (Electromyography (EMG) is a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles). From wireless transmission, the next logical step is sensors implanted in our skin!!!

3.) Big Data (Example: Tableau)

Big Data is a funny buzzword. The joke about it is “Big Data is like sex in high school. Everyone is talking about it no one is actually doing it.” Corporations have been able to collect more data than they ever have before, yet they have no way of mining it and digging out the insights/intelligence embedded in it. Tableau is a platform that has been an easily integratable piece of software for corporations. But where it fails, and so do its competitors, is that it still involves someone sitting down to understand what is going on in the data and what needs to be communicated.

Capitalizing in 2014: Artificial intelligence begins to gain traction, companies like the one I work at in Narrative Science. (Obviously this is also a biased viewpoint of mine. 🙂 ). What I mentioned above is what we’ve been hearing from clients of Tableau, Qlikview, etc. Yes these platforms make the data more accessible, but a human has to physically “put the data to work” and understand what needs to be communicated. Why not have the data tell you what should be communicated? That’s what we do at Narrative Science, coding the thoughts and business-rule driven processes that people currently have to go in and interpret. From earnings previews to individualized business reports for franchise owners of fast food chains, we can do write these reports in seconds and it reads like a human sat down to write it.

Later this week I’ll address general trends that will continue into 2014 that we saw emerging in 2013, like the connected home and well, you’ll just have to read the post.



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