Physical Devices are Being Digitized
Technology is changing and developing rapidly for consumers. There are many exciting possibilities that are coming along every day. It's amazing to see how technology is progressing and how everyday appliances and tools around us are taking on new forms and shapes. Let's take a look at how devices around us are changing and what the factors behind the changes are.
Tangible Items are Gaining Digital Interfaces and Features
It's no surprise to anyone that so much of our daily life and the things we surround ourselves with are rapidly becoming digital or have digital components. Take our automobiles for instance, a vehicle is a real world mechanical system that physically transports us. Still, everything that can be digitized is currently undergoing transformation.
Long gone are the days of dashboard consoles with physical knobs. Every new automobile is being built with a digital computer display. It's far from just entertainment devices. The entire car is now running from a computer. Shifting a vehicle in manual drive used to mean a shifter knob that physically controlled the gears. Now a simple button press informs the vehicle that you want to change. Key fobs are currently being fazed out in exchange for keyless entry, and there are several concept designs in the works that will enable a key fob to control everything about the vehicle, from the sound system to activating the engine and more.
Even in a setting like a casino, all the games that were once dependent on physical interactions are rapidly becoming more available online. Take slots for instance. From humble beginnings as a machine with an arm to activate, it evolved into a device with bright lights and computer displays. Even in its present form, it is very much still a physical machine. It was unfathomable that these devices would still draw interest if they were purely digital. However, with the increase of slots online offering a wide range of themed games, we are seeing more people willing to forgo the casino and stay at home. This is reminiscent of what is happening across the gaming industry and many industries, like theme parks.
The Consumer Is Different Today
So what is changing in the world to drive all of this innovation? To sum it up succinctly, the consumer is different. Money drives the business world and consumers vote for their needs with their dollars. In the past, people made purchases of items that would last a lifetime. Today, we are moving more towards a disposable society. Thus, items are made with more plastic parts instead of heavy metal components, and many things are becoming digital.
The consumers of today want to upgrade their vehicle and phone every other year. They are not concerned with long term viability, and will instead purchase cheaper quality goods if the price is better. Consumers are also looking for more capabilities and increased functions with their products, like the ability to access and pull data from apps and and websites.
In the past, your refrigerator kept things cold. That was it's only purpose. Today, refrigerators are being built with digital displays in the door that can tell you the time, weather, and what you are running low on. You stream your music from your phone onto all of your bluetooth connected devices. While it seems like we are well underway in the digital age, truly we are only seeing the beginning.
Moreover, with IOT (internet of things) capable devices, even more standard household appliances will have digital components that can be controlled and programmed from a central device like your phone. Customers want devices that are programmable and have increased interactivity.
Manufacturing Has Changed
All of these desires from the consumers have driven manufacturing in a new direction. Goods are being produced on a mass scale in specific countries. Where there used to be several smaller plants worldwide, more and more power is being centralized in specific locations like China. Automation is also being used more everyday as computerized machinery is being tasked with assembling the electronic components needed in devices today.
However, everything is also becoming cheaper for the most part. Televisions are a prime example as massive high definition televisions are becoming cheaper every year, and this is just one example.
While there are many benefits for the consumer with the current state of manufacturing, there are also considerable drawbacks. Goods and electronics are certainly not built to last in today's world, and oftentimes it is just cheaper to replace it anyway. This is an issue in itself though, in the past people were more capable of fixing things on their own. With many small and electronic components however, this is quickly becoming harder and harder without the aid of specialized knowledge and tools. Oftentimes, small issues lead to an entire unit being thrown out instead of repaired which is bad for the owner and the environment.
Overall, there is not much that will be changed anytime soon. We are moving more towards a digital society every day.