Now’s The Time

I’d like to highlight a blogpost by Adobe staffer Mihai Corlan this week, “Unlocking the true potential of smartphones”… not for its answers, but for its questions.

Mihai starts by noting that “my first four computers were less powerful than the current smartphone I’m using these days”, and goes on to describe some things he’d like to do with it… controlling his television, house temperature, managing his music system, collaborating on to-do lists.

It makes sense. You’re carrying around a few ounces of electronics anyway. It should be able to communicate with other devices around you… should be, quite literally, “a control panel to the world”. It seems an inevitable future.

But it’s under-discussed. All the recent techblog psychodrama is just distraction. The reality is that there are entire new classes of affordable devices arriving this year. And unlike PCs or The Internet, these devices will be both globally adopted, and explosively adopted. The world in three years will be quite different from today.

We need to imagine now how people will want to use these personal, always-handy communication devices. A decade or two ago some sages surmised the potential of The Web, but even with its relatively slow growth we were all surprised by what we discovered we could do. Mobile potential was even more fragmented, but early adopters like Japan and Korea showed the potential, while texting showed the universal popularity. The next year will blow past those previous disruptions.

Please, take a minute, read Mihai’s post, see what problems he’s trying to address. Then visualize such scenarios in your own life, how such devices might be used, how they should be used.

We’re at a unique point in time right now — we can see the disruptive change ahead, even though we cannot readily see its form. But it’s too easy to turn away and let it fall upon us. I believe that the more we visualize and choose among possible futures now, the more quickly things will improve for everyone.

What kind of application would you use to control this, for instance…?