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Last spring, I was the closing keynote speaker for a meeting at Genentech — they’re one of the world’s leading genomic based pharmaceutical organizations.

I just found this gem in the video — when I was asked a question, and turned it around to my thoughts on two of the most innovative industries in existence today. Give it a watch!

Want to understand the future? It’s all about the batteries!

My attention was reminded of this fact last week with an article that appeared on Bloomberg, “Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Rival Lithium-Ion,” which brought me back to a series of Twitter posts I did a few months back about trends involving batteries.

The thread is worth revisiting, since what is happening with battery technology today will impact dozens of industries into the future! Often, entire industries will be changed and disrupted by the most innocuous of trends.

Obviously, the energy, hi-tech and automotive sectors will be transformed by the acceleration of battery innovation.  But so will other industries, such as healthcare, aerospace, and agriculture. Everywhere I look, I see big changes and opportunities that come from the acceleration of battery science.

With that, I’m pretty convinced that in the future, people will come to realize that one of the most transformative trends of our time had to do with the acceleration of the science of battery technology. To understand why the acceleration of battery science, and innovation around battery concepts is so important, let’s replay the Twitter thread here, with some added commentary.

First off, battery technology is being subjected to the acceleration of basic science, with I have been speaking on stage about for many years. Specifically, the key point being that “we’re going from 19 million known chemical substances today, to 80 million by 2025, and 5 billion by 2100. Any new substance can lead to the emergence of a billion dollar market.”

That’s the acceleration of battery science in a nutshell.

The key concepts accelerating concepts with batteries involve how to improve longevity, weight, and innovate with battery concepts to ride this pace of scientific discovery.  Simply put, there are big opportunities that come from making batteries lighter, that last longer, and which are based on new concepts and scientific ideas, not to mention innovate methods of utilizing them.

Where is the basic science innovation occurring? With drones!

What sparked my original Twitter thread was an article I came across which focused on the unique research occurring with drone batteries. Drones have quickly become a part of many industries, yet have been limited in terms of how long and how far they can fly. The article took a look look at the many new types of batteries – beyond the common lithium-ion batteries – which are under development. If you want to understand what’s really happening with the science of batteries, read the article.

As a futurist, I track dozens of topics in order to keep up with trends, and last month, this article below caught my attention. It’s another example that there is a lot of innovation occurring with different concepts in battery science, another barometer for fast innovation.

And the disruption from batteries? It’s huge in every industry. In the energy sector, for example, it will allow people to store energy from their own backyard energy sources, to be reused later. Then they’ll connect to their neighbours, leading to the emergence of little local energy micro-grids. People will disrupt the utility industry just as they they disrupted the music industry!

Since industries understand that batteries really define their future, the pace of innovation is moving from fast to furious.

And then, while writing may Twitter thread, another article about battery science innovation caught my attention!

And another…. the key thing is, take a look around, and there is just an amazing level of science innovation with battery tech – just as there was with ‘plastics’ in the 1960’s!

Often, to think about the future, you need to stretch your mind well into the future, and think big and bold. Folks are doing that in the battery space:

Add it all up, and something transformative is happening!

I’ve been speaking about the impact of battery science on industries for many ears, including in the energy sector; in 2012, I keynoted a global energy event for Accenture, and spoke about how battery technology was leading to fascinating  concepts — such as a 24 hour solar power plant!

I’ve also written about the topic for many organizations, such as this article I wrote for GE, distributed to their clients worldwide.

Of course, the thing about innovation is this: there are often people who discount the speed of trends which are occurring, or simply can’t conceive of how massive change comes into play.

Back to the fact that it is all about accelerating science. (I repeat myself!)

And so, it’s all about the batteries!

What should you think about next? Maybe penguins!

Your car is about to become your concierge. A personal robot. And so much more.

You probably don’t have a lot of time to think about all the things that are going on with the rush to self-driving cars and electric vehicles. I do – that’s my job as a futurist. The things is, you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know it.

So I’m going to let you know!

We are currently seeing a massive acceleration of change hitting the auto industry. I’m doing lots of keynotes around the theme — read Accelerating the Auto Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

What’s next? Here are some things you might not be thinking about:

  • the simplicity of design means more companies enter the car and truck industry. Carbon and gas is tough; electric and tech is much easier. Electric involves a motor, some wheels, and some stuff to connect the two, with a few computers thrown in. That’s a bit of a stretch, but talk to anyone in the industry, and its ‘way easier’. Simply put, the next generation of vehicles is easier to design, engineer and build, with the result that we will see more organizations entering the space.
  • the shift in legal liability is huge.  As in, what happens in a crash between an autonomous car and a human driven vehicle? Who do police take a statement from? Do we impound the data record? If so, from the cloud? Lots of fun is going to unfold in this area!
  • partnership is everywhere. The industry is blurring at a furious pace. Coming together are companies in the battery and alternative energy space; telematics and GPS and intelligent highway technology; cybersecurity companies and dozens more. Simply take a look at a few infographics on the number of companies getting involved.
  • the future will be full of surprises. For example, who would have predicted Nvidia, long known for making the graphics cards that were at the heart of the gaming industry, is now at the forefront of the self-driving car industry — because of the ability of their technology to process the vast volumes of data that are involved. There are lots more NVidia’s out there, repositioning themselves for this fast-future.
  • there might be an increase in automated muggings. A self-driving car will be programmed to stop when it senses a human in front of it. Hence, I could merely walk into a road, stand there, and the car will stop. It will then take me a moment to do something evil to relieve the occupants of their valuable. Who will program and mitigate against this scenario?
  • route and car hacking will be the next ransomware.  Have you seen the experiment where someone placed some concentric circles on a road that totally confused a self-driving car? What happens when the computer virus industry sets its sights on the new computer-car industry? Oh, the places we’ll go and the things we will see (or not see, as it were…)
  • there will be data wars. Self-driving cars generate lots of data, and many questions are as yet unanswered. As in, who owns the data, and what can they do with it? People buying, sharing or leasing cars will be presented with massive “I agree to all terms and conditions” word dumps like they get with their iPhones and software, and they will click away their right to any of that data. Expect massive new intellectual property issues to emerge, and lawyers who will make a lot of money going forward as these data issues get sorted out.
  • the data will be worth a lot of money. Google built a business on search. Car data companies will build a business based on location and navigation.
  • you car will become a credit card. At the same time that companies equip cars with cell capability to turn the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot, they’ll also put a SIM card and technology in place that will let the car do an automatic credit card transaction. Apple put Apple Pay into a mobile device, and as the car becomes a phone, it will become an Apple Pay device too! You’ll pay at the drive-through simply by putting your thumbprint on the dash.
  • driver education will change. It will move from “how do I drive a car” to “how do I use a car?” Why? Consider a University of Iowa study : 65% of drivers didn’t know how to use adaptive cruise control, and many didn’t event know what it was! Expect befuddlement and bewilderment as cars become computers on wheels.
  • watch the drones to understand the future of electric cars. One major form of car innovation today is occurring with battery technology, which is at the heart of electric vehicle technology. Those in the drone space are working hard to figure out how to extend the range of flying drones, and are doing lots of research with new battery technologies that offer extended range through lower weight. This will bleed into the electric vehicle market, and will lead to rapid advances in electric car range and a decrease in cost.
  • your car will be personalized based on biometrics and technology. – Your car will know who you are when you get in, when you approach it, or when you phone it, and will adjust its settings based on that knowledge. Your car will have a trusted relationship with your mobile device, your fingerprint and your eyeball. You will start it simply by having it examine your retina, rather than pressing a button.
  • the purpose of a car will fragment. Cars today are designed to get you from point-A to point-B. In the future, specific cars will be designed for a specific purpose, with the result that the very concept of a car is going to fragment. There will be cars for long distance vs those built for a short commute; those built for peloton travel (i.e. interlinking with other cars in a pack) vs. those which are engineered to excel at navigation for narrow city streets. There will be cars which will be decked out as a home office for a self-driving commute, and others which will be tricked up to be rolling bedrooms on wheels for tourists. We’ll see lots of new types of cars, with different cost implications the result!
  • self-driving cars might obliterate pizza delivery jobs and other activities. Your car will simply go out and get pizza when you tell it too. In this way, your car will evolve to become a personal-concierge-robot, undertaking various activities at your command. Car-as-a-service concepts will unfold.
  • big bets are being made, big bets will be lost; Business books will be written in the future as to who won, who lost, and which big bets they made along the way It’s an epic battle between car companies and tech companies, and we are in the midst of a 100 year revolution. One estimate suggests that there are currently 50 major competitors in the space today; that might be reduced to 5 or 6 within a decade.
  • video gaming will come to cars. With that in mind, we’ll see video game consoles and controllers built into cars. After all, while its busy taking you to work, you’ll have some time to kick back and destroy a few daemons!
  • we’ll see ‘network of cars‘, and network-subscriptions will be available. You’ll be able to link to your friends and go off on a self-driving voyage somewhere, because your car will link to other cars and you’ll be able to share an automated voyage together. You might find a network of folks in your neighbourhood who self-drive to work together, and you’ll sign up to their morning commute, sharing a peloton experience on the HOV lanes in order to reduce your cost.
  • car mechanics become computer techies. Geek-squads for cars will be the new normal. We’ll reboot our cars more often than we will change the oil.
  • disruption will be fun! Self-driving car tourism will combine Uber and AirBNB into something new. Use your imagination,
  • trailers will take on more importance. It will be a growth market — since you’ll have so much more to do with your car, you’ll have to take a lot more stuff with you!
  • a steering wheel of today is already is a thing from the olden days. One day, a kid will be born who will be the first to never use a steering wheel, and will never know how to ‘drive’ in the context of driving today. The concept of telling a car what to do will simply seem silly. Maybe that kid is already alive. They’ll only ever know a world in which a car drives itself.
  • gesture control and eyeball scanning might be the future of navigation. Didn’t think to tell your where you were going, or are simply going through a new, unknown neighbourhood? You’ll simply point or look and your car will figure out where you want to go. Video game developers that excelled at writing human-machine interface code for the gaming industry will find hot new carers in the automotive sector.
  • design is shifting from the exterior to the interior. More money will be made on the function, apps, and purpose of things you can do inside the car than outside.
  • legacy companies will try to fight the future, thinking it is a marketing war, not an innovation war. They’ll realize it won’t work. Consider Lexus, for example, which doesn’t want to talk about ‘self-driving cars‘ – they want people to talk about “automated safety technology.” Sure. It won’t work.
  • race car drivers will complain when a self-driving car wins the Indy 500. Such is progress, but it will take on the form of many other grand challenges, such as 3D printing Michelangelo’s David in concrete, having a robot play in the World Cup of soccer, or a world in which a computer beats a human in chess. (That one has been done.)
  • there’s a massive rush for skills : Delphi is hiring 5,000 software engineers and wants to double it in the years to come. Most car companies don’t have the skills they need, and the war for talent will go super-nova.
  • self-driving cars will have personalities. You’ll be able to press a few buttons and have it drive like your grandmother, or another button to have it become a race car driver (GPS restricted, of course)
  • some car company executives are saying some pretty dumb things right now. Just like CEO’s in the past: Bill Gates at Microsoft (‘640k should be enough for everyone‘); Ken Olsen at DEC (‘no one will ever need a computer in their home‘); IBM’s Thomas Watson (‘computers in the future may weigh no more than 5 tons‘). Smugness and complacency is not a business strategy.
  • the stories for the business books of the future surround you right now. Years from today, we’ll have a flood of innovation books and detailed case studies which will compare Deliberate-Detroit vs. Speedy-Silicon Valley. The story is still being written. Right now, there are a few Research-in-Motions about, convinced that heir business model has longevity. Maybe not, and I know who my money is with!
  • people will get ticked with highway lanes dedicated to self-driving cars. There are always those who hate the future and progress. But lanes dedicated to self-driving cars will make sense, because they will be able to support big volumes of smart cars, reducing overall traffic growth. San Jose in California is already considering doing this.
  • it’s all about the airwaves. If self-driving cars are throwing off 7GB of data per hour, the data has to float through the ether. There will be a huge rush to support new data transmission channels – and smart governments will realize there will be money to be made by auctioning off new spectrum.
  • Siri, Alexa and other botnet technology will be everywhere. That’s a simple conclusion, but it will be kind of interesting to be driving next to someone who is engaged in a long conversation with their car.
  • networked battery technology will emerge. The big pursuit with mobile phone technology today involves dockless-or-plugless charging : you simply charge your phone through the air. That will eventually come to electric car batteries — and maybe I’ll sell you a little bit of my excess battery energy while we cruise down the highway next to each other
  • the evolution of self-driving cars is really a story about Moore’s law. Processing power will collapse on a regular basis, and capabilities will exponentiate. Study the past of the computer industry to understand the future of the auto industry.
  • it’s really a big data story with big implications : Tesla already has compiled millions of miles of data about the folks driving its car. The future might be less about the vehicle and more about the data they generate.
  • the economic development implications are huge. Industry will relocated to regions that have smart highway infrastructure, excellent re-charging services, and progressive policies when it comes to supporting this revolution. Does your Mayor get it?
  • self-driving cars don’t involve just cars. It involves trucks, and tractors, and ships, and planes, farm combines and boats. It’s not just an era of self-driving cars — it’s an era of autonomous, self-operating things.
  • a bunch of other innovations are happening all at once. In fact, there  are a whole bunch of parallel innovations occurring with self-driving vehicles, involving such things as advanced energy storage technologies and methodologies, energy microgrids, robotics and AI, deep data and analytics, smart highway technologies, advanced materials, and so much more. And just as with the space program, all of these developments are leading to other new opportunities, industries and new billion dollar industries.
  • outsourced driving will be a thing. Your car might have the smarts to drive for you. Or, if it is a complex route and it doesn’t have the smarts, you’ll simply be able to outsource the driving to someone on the other side of the world. “Leave the driving to us” will take on new meaning.
  • your car will know when its going to break down, and will tell you. It will also tell the auto company or local computer geek. Maintenance models will turned upside down through prognostic diagnostics.
  • there’s a massive skill set shift underway. As in, this ain’t your fathers carburetor! The new skill sets in automotive will involve electronics, programming, electrical circuit mastery, advanced route optimization insight, and so much more!
  • the future of the industry might be determined by a geek in a garage. Just like the computer industry and HP, the future of the car industry might unfold by some hacker hacking away with big dreams and big visions. Such as, say, comma.ai 
  • modularity will be a thing.  In fact, the very concept of ‘fixing a car’ might go by the wayside. We’ll see more modular technology — parts that you simply drop in to replace another one that has gone bad.
  • no one is talking about open source vs. closed source cars. Linux vs. Microsoft anyone? As cars become computers, some people believe that they should be built on an open source foundation, because this will be the best way to provide for reliability and safety. 20 years ago, the running joke was that if Microsoft built the operating system for the car of the future, the car would shut down in the middle of the highway randomly, and the dashboard would simply say, “General Car Fault.” Open source concepts will quickly come to the car industry, and could be pretty disruptive. Watch the video below – I was talking about this in 2004!
  • faster obsolescence will be a reality. Cars will take on the innovation curve of the smartphone: you’ll replace them every 24 months or less. In the same way, your car will become a fashion statement: disposable, instant, with the result that cars will a new form of fashion. With that, resale values will collapse — who wants to be seen driving around with an old outdated car, using an outdated iPhone 4?
  • we’ll see a lot of stranded assets throughout the auto sector. For example, what happens to all those lube/tire replacement/auto repair facilities? Smart entrepreneurs will figure out smart things to do with all that infrastructure.
  • it’s all about the penguins. Simply put. Read the post.
  • Amazon might own a big chunk of the future of highways. Not the physical part, but the data part. Right now, they have a few significant patents, including one which involves the allocation of highway lanes. Expect HOV-as-a-service business models!
  • not many people realize that light poles are a big part of the self-driving car future. You average local light pole is changing: it’s become a Wi-Fi hotspot, a car charging station, and a ‘FitBit for a City’ with environmental monitoring capabilities built in. People who understand the evolving role of light poles also understand they can be a big thing in terms of the future of smart, interconnected highways and streets
  • no one is talking about smart highway technology, but there is a lot happening there. The future is not just about how the fact that the cars that drive on highways are gaining intelligence, but the roads they drive on are becoming intelligent too. Highways will be built with embedded sensors, network technology and other gear that will interact with smart cars to provide the best
  • the really smart people in the industry are carefully reading an older book. It’s called Traffic, and it’s all about the science of traffic jams. Figure out how to program your way through the inefficiency of traffic jams, and you’ve got a product or service that people are willing to buy!
  • spatial data bubbles are a thing, and you’ll learn about them. You’ll be immersed in a lot of spatial data bubbles and if you understand that, you’ll understand the future. You don’t know what they are? Learn about them!
  • get ready for zombie cars. I bet you haven’t even thought of that one! 
  • robotic highway cones will be a thing. I’ve been talking about them since 1995, and no one has built them yet. I still believe it will happen, just like perfect microwave popcorn did. Watch both videos.

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Credit Union Magazine just ran a great article on my keynote yesterday in Las Vegas for Drive 17, the annual conference from CU Direct on trends in the automotive lending space for credit unions.

Self-driving cars, drone technology, Apple Watch, and even FaceTime.

It’s technology we see depicted in “The Jetsons,” a cartoon from 1962 that depicted the life of a futuristic family. But we’re already seeing much of the technology today, more than 40 years before the cartoon takes place in 2062.

It’s staggering to think how quickly the world around us is changing,” says innovator and futurist Jim Carroll, who addressed CU Direct’s Drive 17 Conference Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The technology in The Jetsons is just another reminder that credit unions need to innovate and not only develop new products, but also transform to keep up with the speed of change, Carroll says.

Given the fast pace of change, more than 80% of conference attendees believe their current business model will not stay the same in the next 10 years due to the significant disruption.

We need to deal with the innovation killers which hold us back from pursuing the opportunities of the future. The future is coming at us with a greater intensity and great speed,” Carroll says. “We need to think big, start small, and scale fast.

Carroll offers credit unions five strategies for successful innovation:

1. Think big

Innovators need to make big, bold decisions to be transformative. This is the only way credit unions will be able to counter the impacts that disrupters, such as fintech companies, have, Carroll says.

Think of Tesla, Carroll says, which has transformed the auto industry by manufacturing vehicles on demand and have placed their dealerships in retail shopping areas rather than in stand-alone structures. Some 400,000 people have signed up for these vehicles, he adds.

2. Presume that everything will speed up

Credit unions are not the only industry struggling with the speed of technology.

Technology is rapidly changing in vehicles, says Carroll, who believes Siri or Alexa buttons, augmented reality screens, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and payment technology embedded in the dashboard may be features in vehicles by 2020.

For credit unions, think about how biometric scans can be used at ATMs.

3. Align to Moore’s Law of innovation

This law says the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months. Technology is constantly changing and is becoming embedded in more items, such as garage doors, ceiling fans, and even grills, Carroll says.

Hyperconnectivity is becoming the rule.

Credit unions need to be aware of the expectations members have for personalization, their use of technology, and a desire for real-time support or interaction when needed.

You need to be prepared to innovate quickly,” he says.

4. Align changing business models and consumer behavior

Mobile devices have a huge influence on people’s purchasing and financing decisions. Research shows the average consumer scans 12 feet of shelf space in a second, and 80% would leave a store if they must wait more than five minutes to pay.

Determine ways to grab your members’ attention and provide solutions faster, in addition to providing a way for members to interact online, Carroll says.

5. Realign to the impact of generations

Recognize how younger generations live their lives. Don’t cling to a routine or process just because that’s the way your credit union has always operated.

Millennials, for example, have been weaned on technology, speed, and innovation, and are open to transformations and changes that take this into account, Carroll says.

 

Tomorrow morning, I’ll keynote Drive 17 — it’s a conference for credit union executives around the topic of the future of lending. Particularly, automative lending. This is similar to a keynote I did in January of this year for the American Financial Services Association — same topic and issues, except for banking executives.

It’s a challenging time to be in this space, as we witness seismic changes in both the very nature of automotive ownership and the manner by which lending decisions are made. Particularly with the next generation, who are very different from their forebears:

  • they don’t have a job for life – they freelance
  • their banking is mobile – they don’t use cash
  • they don’t think long term – 25 year mortgages are a foreign concept
  • they don’t stay at hotels – they use AirbNb
  • they don’t use taxis – they Uber
  • and 1 in 10 works in the sharing economy…. and so they don;’t have the typical risk profile of an employee

The biggest challenge? They might not even buy cars, but rather will take advantage of all the opportunities that the sharing economy presents. Of course, if you are in the business of lending money for the purchase of automobiles, this can be a problem, and requires some innovative thinking.

If they do, however, buy a vehicle, the manner by which they will seek financing will be very, very different. It will be done through their mobile device; they’ll expect instant options, and instant approval. We’re talking 30 seconds here. If you can’t meet their expectations in terms of the time for the transaction, they’re gone. Which means you need to challenge yourself in terms of interface, risk assessment and more.

In my keynote tomorrow, I’ll cover these trends and more. The reality? Every credit union and financial institution today needs to comprehend the speed with which transformative change is occurring, and how they must focus on innovation as a means of turning those challenges into opportunity.

 

Here’s a video clip in which I’m speaking on stage at a trucking conference in Phoenix about just how quickly things are happening in the world of intelligent, self-driving vehicles.

Including why penguins are so important!

 

I just had a short talk in an airport with an urban planner; the inevitable question came about as to where I was going, and then, what I do. (In today’s case, I’m going to speak to 250 cattle ranchers about their future….)

So I explained the idea of a futurist, and in order to make it relevant, I came up with a trends scenario for him: “What do we do about zombie cars from an urban planning perspective?”

The essence of the issue is this:

  • one day, we’ll have a lot of self-driving vehicles
  • in that context, there are many communities where people have to pay extra for overnight parking spots, either for their condominium or due to the unique design of the neighbourhood they live in
  • in some communities, these parking spots are expensive — upwards of $500 to $1,000 a month
  • people with self-driving cars will avoid this cost, simply by sending their cars out at 6 or 7pm to drive around the neighbourhood for the night, or to go park at a shopping mall parking lot somewhere
  • everyone will order them back around the same time — say, 6AM
  • and so we will suddenly have to deal with new traffic jams occurring at 6am
  • so the question is, what will an urban planner do to deal with the new challenges coming from zombie cars?
  • Will it be an issue, and how should we manage and plan for it?

Just saying. Just one of many fascinating topics I bring into my keynote, Accelerating the Auto and Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

I’ve been doing quite a few keynotes in the automotive and trucking sector around the fast pace of developments and technology with self-driving vehicle technology.

Here’s a clip from a recent keynote in Phoenix on how quickly things are coming together in the trucking sector.

To learn more about the keynotes I do on this topic, visit the topic page Keynote: Accelerating the Auto & Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

Location intelligence was the hot new opportunity 20 years ago as spatial (GIS) data came to be a big part of the world. 20 years on, it still is. My oldest son is building a fabulous career working in the industry – he’s a leading expert in the use of tools such as ArcGIS, for example.

But move over for spatial data bubbles — all of us are about to become immersed in many different bubbles, and the implications are bigger than you think!

What is a spatial data bubble? It’s a phrase I’ve coined as I’ve come to spend more time thinking about what happens when we add location oriented data to data-sets that will envelope us in multiple dimensions. I first hit upon the realization of how important they will be when I was working out with my personal trainer one day at the gym, and was continuing to ensure she understood the impact of emerging smart clothing technologies upon exercise routines.

The simple fact is, I drive my personal trainer nuts when I’m at the gym. She will try and get me to do a certain routine that has my limbs or torso moving within a certain defined area. If they move within that area, I’m doing it correctly. At the same time that she is trying to get me to do this, I’m busy formulating in my mind how we could reinvent exercise in the future with spatial data bubbles! Here I am on stage talking about this idea — in this case, an opening keynote for the YMCA/YWCA.

How will this work? First off, smart clothing will replace wearable technologies – read my post on that. I’ve been speaking and writing about smart clothing for years — two years ago, I outlined in a keynote for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association that this would be a major trend to watch. Some of the bubbles which are emerging will be fascinating: a golf ball in the future will be its only little spatial-data bubble information generator as it starts to transmit real time information on speed, velocity, location and acceleration! Most sports equipment will exist in little spatial data bubbles that also align goals and objectives to performance.

So it will be with exercise routines. The  emergence of smart-clothing will solve the problem of ‘firing’ the right muscles during an exercise routine, by providing information on whether I’m in the right spatial area.  In the future, we will be buying clothes that will have a variety of embedded sensors and technology. When my trainer gets to me to do a routine in the future, and these sensors will be used to generate a data bubble around my body. She’ll be able to set a tolerance range — say, 10 or 20%. The bubble will determine if my activities are within that particular spatial range within the bubble — if so, I’ll be rewarded in some way. The better I get at the routine the lower the tolerance with the bubble will be!

If my activities stray outside the bubble — well, maybe the clothing will zap me! Big opportunities for performance-oriented exercise routines!

Spatial data bubbles will soon be everywhere! They are emerging at a furious pace with the rapid emergence of self-driving car technology.

Today’s collision avoidance systems have limited data bubbles, only looking at vehicles around them. In the future, the bubbles will be bigger, talking to the road, linking to other data bubbles, advance telemetry systems, road monitoring and lane allocation systems, and more!

The typical self-driving, connected car is putting off some 7 gigabytes of data per hour. That’s a staggering amount of information — and increasingly, more and more of it will be spatial data bubble oriented. Self-driving cars and trucks will talk to intelligent highway infrastructure technologies which might guide them on their journeys, and in effect, create a little bubble of data around the vehicle involving obstacles, other vehicles, road sensors and other stuff. Then there is stuff that is already here: peloton technology that has self-driving cars and trucks involved cars communicating their lo0cation in time and space with other vehicles so that they can travel in a space-saving, wind-resistant pack. The data bubble of a car has 360-sensing capability, looking for pedestrians, other cars and other information.

Spatial data bubbles aren’t new: they’ve been around for some time. Perhaps the best example are the robots used in advanced manufacturing systems. These robots need to have continual 3D awareness. They used to be able to operate on their own; but as their spatial data bubbles have grown, they’ve become collaborative, designed to work in proximity to people. They’ve become more spatially aware, with cameras, sonar and other tech. This has allowed them to become cognitive and quality-conscious , with feedback on whether assembly is done correctly. Increasingly, they are capable of working in multiple planes at once, with multiple axis movements. Their bubble will extend to human-operators, who might increasingly use spatial bubble technologies such as Google Glass, for remote operation, in a virtual reality scenario.

And therein lies a key point – virtual reality, more than anything else, will accelerate spatial data bubble technologies. This point was hammered home to me on the weekend when I visited Colony VR in Ottawa with my son, his girlfriend and my wife. Here I am smashing some balloons while in a virtual reality spatial data bubble!

A futurist in a spatial data bubble!

Virtual reality is going to have a massive impact on the rate of spatial-data bubble technologies, methodologies, data sets and more! VR will emerge as a significant tool for skills training, telemedicine, sports and so much more. And if you think about it, it’s all about data bubbles!

Location-oriented data is pretty easy and not terribly overwhelming in terms of quantity, because it essentially involves a couple of points on a map. Spatial data bubbles are infinitely more complex, because it will involve thousands or millions of data points involving that point on the map, and the areas above and around it.

If you think we’ve seen a data explosion in the past, we have, as they say, ”seen nothing yet!”

Spatial data bubbles are the new location intelligence!

A time when technology arrives to market obsolete
Futurist Jim Carroll describes trucking trends likely to shape disruptive years to come
Mar 17, 2017 Aaron Marsh | Fleet Owner

It’s a pretty wild concept: that technology today — including that in trucking — is being eclipsed and outdated almost as soon as it can be brought to market. But if you want to know what’s around the next corner for trucking, that’s where you need to start, says futurist Jim Carroll.

According to this future trends analyst and foreseer of sorts, if you want to get out in front of the next big change in trucking, keep in mind that when it comes to the future, you may have no idea what you should really be thinking about.

To set the stage and “bring you into my world — and that is a world of extremely fast-paced change,” Carroll referenced research on the future of careers in the U.S. that suggests about 65% of children now in preschool will have a job in a career that does not yet exist.

“Think about that: if you have a daughter, son, granddaughter, niece, nephew or whatever who’s in kindergarten or grade one, roughly seven out of 10 of them are going to work in a job or career that does not even yet exist,” Carroll told listeners. He spoke at the recent Omnitracs Outlook user conference in Phoenix.

How does something like that happen? It already did recently: he gave the example of smartphones and GPS services, which have sprung up over about the same time period. It’s resulted in geographically and directions-oriented apps and location intelligence professionals. Oh, wait a minute — “location intelligence professionals”?

“Think about that phrase, and think about what’s happening in the world of trucking and logistics,” Carroll noted. “Think about how integral all of those mapping applications have become in the world of your business.”

“That’s a career that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago,” he continued. “Now, cast your mind into the world of trucking 10 years from now and think about the careers and jobs that might exist.”

Here’s another guiding example. If you take “any type of degree today based on science” at a college or university, Carroll contended, “things are evolving so quickly that it’s estimated that half of what we learn in the very first year of a degree program will be obsolete or revised by the time we graduate three years later.”

Those who are fast

The point is, technology changes are coming from seemingly everywhere, and change — including in trucks and their growing embedded technology like Internet connectivity or advanced safety products — is accelerating.

And that is so much the case, noted Carroll, that many kinds of technology are out-of-date almost as soon as they hit the market and you can buy them. Think about smartphones, which often see multiple models of a given phone issued in a single year.

“We live in a time of absolute, instant obsolescence.”
—Futurist Jim Carroll

That drive for the latest model has now even filtered into social standing. “The way your friends judge you today is very much based on the technology you carry around,” Carroll observed. “So in other words, if you go to a party and take out a flip phone, people will be kind of looking at you like, ‘What a loser — he’s got something from the olden days.'”

Carroll gave another example of digital cameras — actually something of a moot point, he suggested, since “this is back in the old days five years ago when people actually bought cameras and weren’t all just using their phones” — where products have about 3-6 months after they’re brought to market before they’re obsolete.

“We live in a time of absolute, instant obsolescence,” he argued, attributing that phrase to global media magnate Rupert Murdoch. Some years ago, Murdoch had pointed out that there is such change happening and at such speed, “that increasingly, the future belongs to those who are fast,” Carroll said.

Trucking: unrecognizable

Polling the audience, he asked listeners what they thought the trucking industry — its methods, its equipment, its technology — would look like in a decade. Most everyone, 86% of those who texted in, voted that they think the industry will be “barely recognizeable, or fully and completely disrupted.”

That’s a clear expectation of considerable change in trucking. “So let’s try another question: if we are in the midst of so much change,” Carroll said, “are we prepared for it?”

And on that note, he added that being prepared for the potentially disruptive/ disrupted future of trucking is to realize that change has been happening faster, particularly in these latter years, than people expected.

To illustrate how, Carroll referenced a time he’d spoken before a roomful of astronauts and astrophysicists at NASA about the future of space. Carroll’s choice of what to present on? The Jetsons. That animated TV show came out in 1962 and was meant to depict life 100 years in the future in 2062.

Except, if you watch some of those old episodes, “George [Jetson] is using Skype. He’s getting his news off the Internet,” contended Carroll. “Elroy has a drone. You can watch one episode where he’s sitting in the living room and using a controller just like we have with our drones.

Along with the Jetsons, here’s another example of the sci-fi, fictional future arriving sooner than expected: a group of scientists has prototyped this device, Carroll noted as he held it up to his head, which essentially works like the Star Trek medical tricorder set in the 23rd century.

“You can watch another episode where they’ve got an Apple Watch,” he continued. “George communicates with his boss via Facetime. Obviously, they’ve got self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, all over the place, albeit they fly.”

“My point is this: we believed that this future would arrive in 2062, and all of a sudden, it is here much sooner than we thought,” he told the audience. “Could that be the case with our future overall?”

In terms of envisioning the future, perhaps think a little offbeat but observe the trends converging. Here’s an example. “Think about trends, and think about what has happened with drone technology,” noted Carroll. “I think a trend which is going to lead us to the world of self-driving, flying cars is we’re going to learn how to scale up our drones and sit a human in them.”

Warehouses on wheels

Carroll advised trucking professionals to think big change when they’re picturing what the industry will look like in the years to come. “Think about what’s happening here,” he said. “There are people with big, bold ideas. Think about what’s happening in the transportation space.”

What kinds of things could happen? Maybe a new type of truck or vehicle will be developed. Autonomous technology could be accelerated and advanced. New distribution models could emerge. Or maybe something else could — something entirely different that turns the trucking you know now into the trucking you knew way back when.

“We’re going to talk to our truck just as we talk to our iPhone. We’re going to have augmented reality screens in the visor. We’ll probably have robotic handlers built into the truck for loading and unloading. We’ll have payment technology built into the vehicle — not only has our cell phone become a credit card, but so has our truck.

“We’ll simply do a biometric thumbprint to complete a transaction,” Carroll painted his future trucking portrait. The only thing, though, is that those technologies, and testing of them, is happening now.

There’s also this: “Part of the changes you see happening [in trucking] is we are witnessing very significant changes in what retailers and manufacturers are doing with their supply chains,” he added. Trucks can now become something more like mobile distribution hubs, for example.

Because of the rise of online shopping and fulfillment, stores will become more like showrooms, and “we’re witnessing the end of inventory,” Carroll contended. Consumers will browse these showrooms and purchase a product, he suggested, and then a streamlined distribution system will deliver that item to the purchaser’s home — hint: trucking would have to be involved here — perhaps even within an hour.

“You are becoming warehouses on wheels, and everybody has this in their sights in terms of big, transformative thinking in your industry,” he argued. “And what is really also happening is that every single industry out there is speeding up.”

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