The tipping point came in 2013. Users of the Internet before then traditionally searched the Web for content that they were interested in (via Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. on their PC’s, laptops or smartphones), they used the Internet ‘as a provider’ of information from which they could ‘pull’ relevant content. From 2013 onwards those same users are now beginning to switch to content being ‘pushed’ to them dependent on their location, based on what they are carrying, wearing or – more importantly – doing. Situation-based content delivery.
Take, for example, the mapping app on your smartphone – it knows where you are (location based services) and pushes maps and direction assistance data to you (doing-based services). The request for assistance may also have come via speaking into a smartphone and using voice recognition software (e.g. Siri) –“I would like to drive to Los Angeles”.
This combined is what is known as “situational-based content delivery”.
2013 has seen the proliferation of wearable devices, over and above the smartphone (which is arguably a wearable device). Google Glasses and Samsung Galaxy Gear (watches), not to mention what Apple will come out with following their recruitment of Burberry’s CEO. These kind of devices enable location and situational based services (“I need to get to the train station by 9:00am on foot, show me the way”) of the kind only just being realized. Then there are the “push” services that can exploit all of this situational data. When content providers know you are in a particular location (beside their store for example) they can “push” relevant content to you (you looked at a new printer last week, using your smart glasses, so those same glasses now offer a cut price deal on the same printer at a nearby store). Your web browser already does an element of this (have you noticed the tailored advertising based on your browsing history? This is know as personalized retargeting. Do be careful in the run up to Christmas!). The use of wearable devices gives even more scope to location-aware content providers.
A combination of wearable devices and spatial search also allows for real time information provision the kind of which you currently have to manually sign up for. If you have ever visited a tourist attraction where audio commentary is available in several languages (for a fee) then you know where I am going with this – one glance (via your glasses) at a historic monument (or whatever) and you get the full Wikipedia. And they know you like a coffee so they will even send you to a suitable local coffee shop – Google making a few more cents in the process!
Searching for content will become a thing of the past, instead replaced by a constant flow of relevant, contextual, location and situation based content (tailored to your needs, of course, and with “opt-out”). Content that is interesting and relevant is so hard to find these days (one can spend hours searching) – why not let the content come to you? Internet-aware devices will undergo an explosion from 2013 onwards – in cars, home appliances, in the street – a vast interconnected data gathering (and data mining) network that will put the web onto the street. Add some DNA and Gattaca becomes very real.