Sharing the future

This has been a pretty exciting time for me. I’ve just emerged from the world’s biggest and best mobile event, the World Mobile Congress (MWC). It’s a four-day tech extravaganza, a Disneyland for geeks. It’s held each year, in Barcelona (I know, the things I have to do…) and as the name suggests, it’s a global gathering for the mobile industry.

To give you an idea of its size, over 108,000 delegates attended and the event was covered by 3,500 members of the international media. More than 2,300 companies paraded everything from connected cars, virtual reality, new phone handsets and ingenious app ideas to 3D printing, privacy protection and backend solutions.

I was there as a guest of Garmin and my goal was to pick the main mobile technology thrusts of 2017 and beyond, and specifically to discover how they’ll affect the wellbeing industry.

Mobile is king

The 2017 MWC was not so much about startling new discoveries as the evolution of current innovations. Mobile continues to be king, with forecasters predicting that by 2022, 6.2 billion people will use smartphones. Growth will be led by less mature markets.

This will reshape our relationship with all our mobile devices. Mobile and smartphone technology will drive, and is already driving, the so-called ‘fourth revolution’, which uses new technologies to fuse physical, digital and biological worlds, and which impacts all disciplines.

Underpinning mobile technology’s capacity is AI – artificial intelligence – combined with growing amounts of data and ubiquitous networks.

Mats Granryd, Director-General of the organisation which hosts the MWC, explained it this way: ‘At the core of this revolution are hundreds of billions of connections sensing and communicating key information about their environment, allowing the digital economy to spread into every aspect of our lives.’

To illustrate, Granryd gave the example of self-driving cars which can sense movement of other vehicles and react to critical information in milliseconds, reducing congestion and eliminating accidents.

Content is critical

In essence, IT comes down to content. Reed Hastings, Founder and CEO of Netflix, discussed the status of content in the midst of a period of disruption and change. According to him, content is one of the primary assets of consumer engagement and loyalty in the digital economy, and content-based acquisitions abound.

Netflix, a major player at the MWC, is synonymous with this new model of production, delivery and personalised engagement. The problem here is that mobiles are small – there’s not a lot of real estate on our phones – and, according to the head of apps for Google UK, on average we only use 26 of all the apps we download.

This means that only the best apps will ‘win’, and that apps will continue to aggregate on platforms, each platform holding a constellation of related apps, as Springday’s platform does. 

Mobile technology and wellbeing

So what does this mean for us in wellbeing?

First, our devices will increasingly gather and interpret data in clever ways. At the simplest level, my wearable tech won’t demand I reach 10,000 steps every day. It will suggest 8,500 steps instead because it will automatically factor in Pilates, which isn’t counted in steps.

But imagine this: a mobile device, for example our Garmin, which analyses data – say heart rate variability – and tells us what we should or shouldn’t be doing about stress levels. It might advise us to smash ourselves at the gym but it might instead offer us a mindfulness exercise in real time or give us diaries smart enough to connect a five-minute meditation to the break we have between meetings.

Or else our devices could use our data and actions to initiate preventative health interventions. Our diary and device will work together to notice our steps are down to 2,000 a day, we’ve been sleeping poorly, and we haven’t factored in any ‘me’ time this week.

This might lead to someone we love calling us to ask, ‘RUOK?’ On the other hand, our health fund or health professional could notice some more concerning data, and help us catch a medical problem before it gets serious.

Yes, this raises privacy issues. We can’t ignore those and they have still to be worked through. However, the benefits of mobile technology will save thousands of lives and change our ways immeasurably for the better.

Sharing the future

So here’s my big takeaway from the information revolution: as focus shifts from technology delivering information to how that information is used, and to the people who create information, a new relationship is being formed between information and the people it services. Rather than fragmenting the world, mobile technology, like social media, helps to bring people together.

Technology today is not just about messaging. It’s about socializing, sharing and building communities. That’s a huge positive in our difficult, divided world. This is a future to celebrate and one I look forward to discovering with you.

What's new

I was recently interviewed about innovation in Australia, and Springday, on Sky News’ The Next Five Years with Bernard Salt. Check out the video and let me know what you think.

This month, Springday launches our companion app. It enables you to do everything on either your device or your computer, from booking a flu vac, taking the wellbeing check tool, to participating in a challenge and getting notifications.

Springday update

We’re hiring!

At Springday we’re looking for an enthusiastic communications intern, so if you or someone you know is all about wellbeing and wants to develop their portfolio in a young and agile environment, check out this ad or email us.

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