Like it or not, we are starting to see a whole range of objects become connected by sending signals and messages to each other, alerting our mobile devices, and creating databanks on everyone. That’s great news for data-hungry publishers looking to become indispensible to their audience through more targeted content – and could be good for consumers as well.

All media companies need to understand how the environment we live in today is being changed by web-connected devices if they want to fully grasp the future mindset and expectations of readers. In turn, we can then understand how we should be dealing with our customers going forward.  

A good example of this new connected world is Nest Labs (purchased by Google last year for $3.2 billion). Nest makes thermostats and smoke alarms for your home that can control hot water, room temperature, and other similar functions, all via a smart device.

You may ask yourself why Google would spend billions of dollars on such products, but when you consider the battle for home-based technology, you’ll understand. Google wants to know who is at home, what they are doing, at what time, etc, all so the company can get closer to its users through the use of data.

There’s also a similar system from the UK called Hive which is gaining momentum.

This may sound a little too much like Big Brother for many, but people are starting to trade privacy for convenience, and we all need to take heed.

In Las Vegas at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show, we saw a broader range of connected devices from tennis rackets to cooking appliances. Their arrival signals many technological advances at home in the coming months and years. These innovations will make your life easier and give your provider access to a closer relationship with you.

Connected cars and interactive watches are all coming, and companies such as Cisco, Panasonic, and Sharp are pledging to make new appliances and devices compatible with a network where they can all interact.

Here are some changes coming to our daily lives, some perhaps obvious but others less so:

– 1 Vehicle servicing: You will no longer miss your annual service or oil change. Your smart car will send a message to you and/or your mechanic when it is time for servicing. By cross-referencing your calendar, appointment date options will be offered.

– 2 Monitoring health: When a prescription from your doctor is running low, an appointment will be made with your physician through connected pill bottles. Doctors will be able to monitor things like blood pressure and sugar levels remotely. This is great for distant case studies in which patients may live in one part of the country and the doctor in another. 

– 3 Home energy consumption: Energy-efficient household appliances will adjust based on dynamic price signals to lower your electricity bill. Thermostats and lighting will learn your personal habits to create the best setting based around your daily life (such as providing your perfect temperature just before you arrive home). 

These devices will also sense when no one is in the house through lack of movement and turn off equipment to reduce costs.

– 4 Driving conditions: Driving will become much safer. Traffic lights will be able to adjust to real-time traffic conditions, such as when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Road sensors will change the speed limit based on weather, accidents, and other relevant issues, while also messaging directly to car dashboards any unsafe conditions, (e.g. “reduce speed. Icy conditions 200m ahead.”).

– 5 Shopping/grocery lists: Smart refrigerators and freezers will sense when you are running low on basics such as eggs or milk and will automatically populate your shopping prior to your next grocery store visit. Retail stores will send special offers and reminders to add items to your list when it predicts you are about to run out based on your previous purchasing behaviour. Beacons located in the store will, via Bluetooth low energy (BLE), locate you and send you messages with promotional offers and information. 

– 6 Your morning wake-up call: If there is an accident or road construction taking place on your normal route, your alarm will wake you up earlier than normal and an alternate route will be sent to your phone, games console, or tablet. And, naturally, your tea maker or coffee machine will be connected to all this to make sure you have your drink ready at just the right time.

– 7 Smart baby and pet monitors: Through smartphones, parents will be able to monitor their baby’s breathing, temperature, activity…and screaming. Babies will wear connected diapers that will send a message to mum or dad when they need changing. Pet monitoring systems will also work in a similar way, allowing you to monitor a pet’s activity, location, and behaviour, all from your smartphone, wherever you are.

– 8 Wearables: Wearable technology has received the most attention in this new age, which is also being called the “Internet of Things.” Many products are now second or third generation offerings, and better designs and more integration with different operating systems are emerging. Apple is of course bringing out its Apple Watch next month. 

From checking your activity during workouts to monitoring sleep patterns to adjusting hearing aids, the devices we wear are becoming more sophisticated by connecting to all of our social media accounts and tracking our personal data. 

Google Glass was (and still is as far as the actual technology goes) one such innovation that is gaining momentum. The device we saw disappear last year wasn’t ever meant to be the finished product we’ll be using in the future. Despite many people saying they don’t want them, Deloitte reckons that more than 21 million wearable units will be sold by 2018. This is “mass niche,” in other words big enough to create an impact.  

The impact of these for broadcast media and rights holders could be immense as the consumer gains the power to stream live action anywhere in the world in an instant.

With the ever-growing number of connected devices in our lives, we will all become our own data banks, used to sharing this information with many people and organisations around us. Start to expect more personal interactions with advertisers, brands, and retailers. 

Media companies, take note.

Publishers therefore will need to establish a closer bonds with readers and persuade them that, by giving up access to personal data, in return they will get more tailored offers, information, and interactions.

Smartphones will become not only everyone’s gateway to this new age, but almost a complete remote control to everyday life. 

Every media company needs to take mobile and connected devices more seriously than ever before and create a strategy around mobile and data, with customer experience at the centre. A strategy that will need to exceed the expectations of readers who have masses of information at their fingertips at a time and place to suit them. An age which is social, mobile and contextual. You better get it right!

To hear more on “Tracking Technology Trends” come to the training day on 9 March at Kings Place, the ‘pre day” to TheMediaBriefing’s Digital Media Strategies conference. 

Mark will be running a full day training course going into more depth on the issues in this article and give you the tools to understand and act upon the key trends in consumer technology and behaviour. The training day particularly would suit “non tech” executives who want to understand the environment better and will enable you to return to the office will a clearer picture on how to integrate new tech developments into your organisation

image via Flickr courtesy of jamonation used under a Creative Commons licence.