Adam's Weekly Blog

Technology defining our age

Technology defining our age

In the musical she gave her name to, Annie sings a song called “You’re...
In the musical she gave her name to, Annie sings a song called “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile”.

It’s annoyingly catchy and I have it in my mind right now. It works musically but it also works dramatically because it reflected a cheery outlook that fought against the economic depression of the 1930s. It symbolizes a different age. That is why that song comes to mind. Because the song that could symbolize out age, is “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without Some Tech.”

Wearable technology and connected devices are becoming the defining symbol of our age.

In 2012 the technology company Cisco estimated there were 8.7 billion connected objects in the world, By the year 2020 they believe there will be over 50 billion connected objects.

In my look at the emerging connected world I went to the US west coast. to meet a man who’s credited as the godfather of the iPod, Tony Fadell. He’s on the Time 100 Most Influential People list and he has turned his hand to bringing the design philosophy of Apple to the world of unloved household technology such as the smoke alarm and the central heating control panel.

His company, Nest, has given them a very smooth makeover. They look and feel different to the normal alarms and control panels that most of us are used to. But what they think makes them special is not what you can see – but what is hidden.

The central heating can be set remotely with your phone – but better than that is it learns by itself when you are in the house and how hot you want it to be. In the future it will check on the weather and even via sensors on your skin, could check whether you’re out running and want the house cool or are cold and need a hot home to return to.

In the high-tech work of Silicon Valley, there is much talk of the excitement around products like this. I found it hard to get too worked up about a smoke alarm and a central heating controller – however clever they might become in the near future. But then I suppose perhaps I am no good at seeing what will take off.

Certainly the men of money are taken by the idea. The company has been sold to Google for $3.2bn. They clearly see a future in which what something does is not as important as how it does it or how interconnected it can be with our daily lives. As the internet has taught us – the future is all about our ability to network.
More +

Download the app

BBC Horizons App

Available in