The Journey towards Technological Integration

by Jeff Wiener on January 13, 2012

Despite the introduction of Ultrabooks and the usual parade of redesigned smartphones, I’ll honestly admit that there’s been little that has caught my eye so far at CES 2012. Without anything interesting to look at I naturally let my mind wander, and as I read a post from one of the writers here at theTelecomblog regarding the introduction of a wireless-enabled vehicle, I couldn’t help but think about where technological progress is taking us.

Strangely enough, as I mulled over the direction our digital existence is heading I came across this interesting interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt yesterday, articulating his vision for a future where his company will simultaneously enact its duel mission statements of Do No Evil and Control the World.

In the interview Schmidt spoke of a vision for a fully connected, fully networked digital existence, one that would have every piece of technology—from one’s TV to refrigerator, from one’s car to one’s heating system—all interconnected…and all running Android of course.

While it comes as no surprise that Google envisions a future where its free open source mobile operating system has infiltrated every corner of the technology market, there have been many voices at this years CES preaching about the push towards technological integration and about the development of an all-encompassing mobile ecosystem.

It’s a future where the smartphone will transcend its role as simply a communications platform and become the portal to all other devices and appliances in one’s home. In turn, those devices and appliances will be linked together in a seamless integrated network, allowing users to access whatever information they want from anywhere in the house—or even abroad with added vehicle integration.

The value of such a fully integrated technological ecosystem is that it goes far beyond entertainment, enterprise business applications, or our need for information and instead extends to every facet of our lives…whether or not such integration will make our lives easier, however, remains to be seen.

There are downsides to this industry-wide push towards networked integration though, and unfortunately they usually come in the form of stagnant innovation. My point is that while Android-powered refrigerators are interesting they’re still just refrigerators and although wireless-enabled cars are cool they’re still just regular old cars. In this push for technological integration it’s doubtful that any new products will be created, simply old products rethought and redesigned.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s great value to taking what we have and redesigning it to make it more technologically advanced, but it still seems to me that such a focus means that we’ve reached a plateau in our technological development, a place where instead of creating new products—weren’t we supposed to have the flying car by now?—we simply look for ways to better combine our old ones.

In the end I have to admit that while I’m excited to see where increased technological integration takes us, I’m a little uneasy about a future where Android controls my personal technological ecosystem, as it all seems to have a disturbing Terminator-esque dystopian feel to it, particularly given the fact that such integration will offer Google the perfect chance for some focused advertising.

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