CEDIA’s Tech Council Predicts the Future, Part 9

Ed Wenck | Oct 10, 2016

The 16 CEDIA members of CEDIA’s Tech Council and CEDIA’s Senior Director of Emerging Technologies Dave Pedigo have put together a list of 100 things they saw in their collective crystal ball for 2020. These next 10 run from the irritating (an IoT backlash?) to the inspirational (will we see the end of SIDS?).

Prediction 81. Crowd funding + 3D printing + social media = Industrial Revolution 4.0. This is a biggie. Some background: As Revolution 1.0 and its steam power morphed into 2.0 with the arrival of fossil fuels and electricity, entrepreneurs from Henry Ford to the Wright Brothers took their tinkering to some next-level places. The globe chugged along through two World Wars, one very scary Cold War and “The Space Age” until the age of computing arrived: Hello, 3.0. The dawning of the Internet of Things was summed up succinctly by blogger Ignacio Pena two years ago: “While other revolutions replaced muscles, smart machines are now replacing humans in cognitive functions.” Now, the dawning of the 3D printer, coupled with the crowdsourcing of both capital and knowledge, creates a kind of high-tech rebirth of the Wrights’ bicycle garage: 4.0 means that the Better Mousetrap will be prototyped in a connected, automated shop; financed, designed, and marketed by hundreds, thousands — maybe millions — of silent partners.

Prediction 82. A DIY IoT backlash may set the adoption of IoT back five years. Back in April, a Penton survey (noted in this article from the Internet of Things Institute) covered business concerns regarding the IoT — and it’s a pretty simple step to apply those concerns to the residential market. Although worries over a lack of standards and the accompanying interoperability concerns were only mentioned by less than 30 percent of respondents, it’s easy to see how Joe Six Pack will get pretty peeved when Thing One and Thing Two can’t talk to each other after he’s plugged everything in. Multiply that times a whole bunch of do-it-yourselfers, and we’ve got a problem and/or opportunity.

Prediction 83. We’ll also see an IoT 2.0 DIY backlash. Once we’ve established at least some standards for IoT 1.0, here comes our aforementioned Joe believing that all his smart home issues have been solved. The Tech Council mentions the Gartner Trough of Disillusionment as the next hurdle, though. Research firm Gartner has created a model of what it calls “The Hype Cycle”: Technology triggers a societal “Oh, wow!” moment that drives expectations through the roof. Before anyone can implement said tech truly effectively, there’s a dip called “The Trough” — and before the bugs and glitches are ironed out (a stretch called “The Slope of Enlightenment,” which would’ve been a fantastic title for a Grateful Dead album), our pal Joe has already unplugged everything and jammed it in his closet — while other members of the family are hopefully calling an actual professional.


Prediction 84. Flexible and rollable displays will enter the market. We’ve seen the leading edge of this at CEDIA 2016 — right now screens-sans-projectors are being perfected, with deep blacks and acoustic invisibility. But as TV displays get ever thinner, all-in-one units will soon get all bendy, too. This is yet another way displays and control panels will wind up on everything, too.

Prediction 85. We’ll see widespread adoption of fabric-based connected wearables. Let’s start with some real gimmickry from last May, when IBM’s Watson and a famous designer came up with a “cognitive” dress that changed color based on the overall mood of Twitter users commenting on the design during a gala at the Met. Neat idea, but let’s flip that feedback loop, shall we? Imagine your Nana wearing a sweater full of sensors — sensors that can tell her doctor about her heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, what have you, and then alert the doc if something’s awry. Now imagine how that applies to baby, and …

Prediction 86. We’ll see significant reduction in SIDS in developed nations through infant wearables. There’s already a product called TweetPee — yep, a diaper that sends a Tweet when the kid is wet. Again, that bit of silliness does predict a sensorized future that includes bedding and onesies with life-function monitors. An alert if an infant is in some manner of distress or diminishment in respiration will be a lifesaver for many, many kids. (There are products handling basic data transmission from baby to caretakers on the market already, including this clever little sock.)

Prediction 87. Sensors will be embedded in fixtures everywhere. Wherever you go, you’ll be in contact with a sensor, and Big Data will — hopefully — be mining info for max efficiency and human comfort. From Aging in Place applications like we’ve mentioned to lighting that lifts mood to the eventual adoption of autonomous transportation, the sensor-revolution will offer a profound lifestyle shift — and security and privacy concerns by the truckload. Example? Imagine an item in a store that notes your interest in it (increased heart rate, slight temperature changes on your skin) — and then automatically drops the price “just for you, special customer” to close the deal.

Prediction 88. Luminaires (light bulbs) are becoming intelligent devices. As Mike Maniscalco from ihiji pointed out, the home’s already got a connected network of light sockets, so using the bulb as a smart device is the next logical step, right? (Prediction 54, found here.) Mike imagined sensors tracking everything from humidity to motion, and there’s another option: bio-adaptive automation right at the light source. Changing color to ease you into sleep or wake you gently, brightening across a certain portion of the spectrum to assist someone’s eyesight — it’s no wonder the cartoon light bulb still represents a good idea.

Prediction 89. PoE lighting will NOT happen in the home anytime soon, but will be very viable in commercial spaces. There are lobbyists who’ll make residential PoE lighting a legislative slog for installers in the home technology professional’s world. There’s a smaller issue at work, here, too: infrastructure. Think about the systems in your home versus the ones you’ve got at work. Yours truly notes his desk phone runs on Power over Ethernet, and it would be a simple stretch to run that line into the ceiling. A lot of commercial and business spaces have walls and access points built for easy adaptability in a way that existing homes don’t.

Prediction 90. The end of the circuit for lighting control — but long live the circuit! You’re likely very familiar with wireless controls for light switches — but what if that dimmer or control panel was able to bypass that switch on the wall and talk directly to that “smart bulb” in the socket? Heck, if a smart luminaire can pick up stats on humidity, surely it can go ahead and drop the lights by 42 percent, right?  As Dave Pedigo notes, though: “We still have a circuit — there will always be power that goes to the bulb. It’s just that we don’t need a switch to turn it on/off or control the light output. The circuit, just like now, is behind the wall.”