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A world that is becoming responsive is a world where boundaries are becoming fuzzier


We used to get our knowledge and info from books. Now we have a new player on the bookshelf, Alexa, and it is smoothly changing our perception of the ambient we live in. Image credit: The Verge

Alexa and the likes are making talking to the ambient we live in normal. More than that, actually: they are leading us to expect that it is normal that the ambient answers our questions, execute what we are demanding of it.
This is brought forward by advances in speech syntheses and speech recognition, something that any product and service in the future decade will be imbibed with. This is a game changer that is partly flanking the Digital Transformation and partly resulting as a side effect of the Digital Transformation.

Notice that it is not just about voice interaction, It will encompass all kinds of interaction, and for sure the visual ones. Augmented Reality, even more than Virtual Reality, will change the way we will be Augmenteinteracting with the ambient, hence with products and services. This will be made possible by interface evolution (seamless goggles, shrinking in the future to the size of a contact lens, smart materials that can display images, text, clips…, ambient projectors that will reshape it depending on the context in a dynamic and personalised way), as well as the availability of seamless access to the digital world. This is where the Digital Transformation reigns by associating every object with its digital counterpart -a Digital Twin-, a counterpart that is connected to the whole cyberspace since in the cyberspace there is no physical distance among data: they are functionally co-located and accessible. Artificial intelligence creates metadata, that is it provides meaning to data relations both in the global space and in the personal space. Our senses will access the meaning that is specifically created for them. Out of the myriad on data and information available in the cyberspace our senses will be led to the ones that would make sense (interest) our brain.

So on the one hand we are seeing a world that becomes responsive in general and on the other a mediation tied to our senses that makes the world relevant to us. This relevance is provided by our digital space -Digital Twin-, and this will be the value we perceive and the source of revenue for business.

Hence, companies, as well as organisations will design their offer having in mind the need to support semantic connectivity in the cyberspace as well as customisation, relevance, to individual users.

Interestingly, privacy will be an issue that can be managed “privately”, through the Digital Twin of the person.  There are already studies going on in finding ways to decouple the hard part of a smartphone from the soft part ensuring that the soft one can present a neutral face to the network.  Today such neutrality would hamper the possibility of customisation but tomorrow customisation may become a local service, a feature of the digital twin embedded in the smartphone (or whatever device will be hosting the interface to the cyberspace).
Business will be reshaped and the Digital Transformation is an important enabler. IoT will take the shape of pyramids with low semantic value at the bottom and higher ones as you move towards the higher layers of the pyramid.  At the uppermost layers there will be virtual IoTs, IoTs made up with data emerging from correlation of data generated by lower layers, emergent behaviour of IoTs, data swarms. Interesting to notice that we, as human beings, will often be part of these global IoT architecture since we are systems with sensing capabilities and the data accrued by our senses, processed by our brains (reflecting various levels of semantic processing) would be acquired by other sensors, like cameras reading our faces and their expressions. It has been said that in the next decade the ebook reader we are using to read an ebook will have a digital camera to look at our face, and other sensors measuring the impedance of our skin. By processing these data the book will read us as we read it!
It is obvious the impact of IoT in the context of Digital Transformation on the business and on the way future products and services will be designed and offered.

We are looking at these issues in the new Digital Reality for Digital Transformation Initiative at the IEEE FDC.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.