Orchid growing with Google Glass and a robot that folds your laundry
Last October, Rabobank Gouwestreek organised an event entitled ‘New technologies: Google Glass’. Guest speakers Danny Mekić and Mike van Rijswijk told us all about the technological developments going on at the moment, and demonstrated Google’s flagship invention: Google Glass.
“We live in interesting times”, says Danny Mekić — who refuses to call himself a social media expert: “With ever smaller and ever faster chips, technological changes are constantly becoming bigger and faster.” Interesting, but also troublesome, the technology expert stresses. “On the one hand, this means anything we can come up with can be made. On the other hand, it can also be too fast for humankind to keep up with.” Many innovations are quickly forgotten again for this reason, the social media architect concludes. That, or they never get a chance. Like Google Glass, for example, which was recently declared to be ‘fail’ by various techies.
“It’s only a first impression of the possibilities of having apps directly in front of our eyes. On a consumer level, there’s nothing to have an opinion about yet. Google Glass is absolutely an innovation. It’s a first step in merging user and technology. Google Glass allows you to be connected to the internet at all times, everywhere you go, without having to do a thing. When it can be useful to you, it will show up.” Online strategist Mike van Rijswijk, expert on Google Glass, shares this opinion. “Don’t think of Google Glass as a consumer product yet. It’s a software platform. And as a software platform, it’s a huge success. The naysayers have no right to complain at this point. It hasn’t even started yet.”
Let’s return for a moment to the rapid pace of technological developments. What does this mean for companies and entrepreneurs? In Mekić’s opinion, there are two things you can do: either you change with it, which takes you into uncharted territory and is therefore uncertain, or you just keep going like you always have, and hope for the best. However, the social media architect believes the second option will inevitably lead to trouble in the long run. “Very bluntly put, what it boils down to is that if we don’t fundamentally change the ways we think, then eventually we’ll end up being part of a computer system built by other people. That’s why we need to make sure we can use to our own advantage what technology has to offer. And distinguish ourselves that way.” “Companies often don’t realise yet how important good advice is in this area”, Van Rijswijk adds. “Or they think they already know everything they need to know. But just being on Facebook and Twitter is no longer enough. You always have to be five steps ahead of technological developments. If you’re not, you’ll be lagging behind.”
Postal delivery by drone
Society is ready for the innovations made possible by rapid technological developments, Mekić concludes. “The intelligence of computers is so advanced nowadays that they not only understand our thoughts, but are also able to process them. We can benefit from that.” Artificial intelligence is one of the developments that the expert thinks will move forward very rapidly in the coming years. Think of robots taking household chores off your hands. Or of ‘talking’ to devices, using facial recognition or motion tracking. The notion of consumers as producers is really going to take off as well. “Using 3D printers, we can create anything we can dream of.” And then there’s new modes of transport. “Not so much the driverless car yet, that invention still has too many issues. But automated distribution carts and postal delivery by drones, airborne or in for example the canals of Amsterdam, that’s something we’ll definitely see quite soon.”
Which brings us back to Google Glass, a device that Van Rijswijk believes is particularly suitable for making life easier. Provided that you read up on it. So you should handle the opportunities in creative ways, the online strategist advises. “And most of all: be open-minded about it. Because when you start thinking about it, the possibilities are endless.” “We still often think of technology as something that happens and that we eventually end up using”, Mekić adds. “But don’t just watch from the sidelines now. This is the perfect time for entrepreneurship.”
Danny Mekić is the founder of consultancy firm NewTeam, a university teacher, mediator, management consultant, investor and opinionmaker.
Mike van Rijswijk has been responsible as an online strategist for projects at prominent Dutch companies such as TPG Post, KPN and Funda.
Experiencing Google’s glasses in practice often leads to interesting ideas. “For example, a farmer told me that using Google Glass, he can check how the cows are doing while riding his tractor. Or an orchid grower who realised that the very time-consuming daily chore of measuring the flowers can easily be done by the glasses. The possibilities are endless.”