Monday Jan 17, 2022

Are you ready for the third wave?

Market cycles tend to happen in waves and technology companies have become an increasingly important part of recent market waves. Since about 1989, many technology companies have worked their way to the top-ranked companies in terms of capitalization, earnings, and investment success. In the early days, it was just IBM and Microsoft. As Internet developments matured, it spread much more successfully, involving companies like Bing, Amazon, and Yahoo. This was the First Wave, and it gave us the internet boom of the 1990s and those boom and bust investments in the tech sector.

The first wave was exciting: a time of exaggerated speculation, but the innovations finally became popular with consumers, in a very big way, and the profits started to come in, also in a very big way. This paved the way for a second wave.

The iPhone was the catalyst and model for the Second Wave, as technology companies strive to greatly improve their communication networks and the convenience of constantly being “in touch.” Great efforts are also being made to make information more convenient, more personal, and more manageable. Making sense of all the available data is a huge challenge, as there has recently been a gigantic data tidal wave. IBM estimates that 90% of the data in the world has been produced in the last 2 years, so how do we find out what to read, what to believe, what to trust?

A part of the solution is to make the data more personal, so that the systems know it and vice versa. Examples include:

  • NEST thermostats that learn when you’re home or away, and what temperature you’re comfortable at when you’re home
  • Music systems like SPOTIFY and PANDORA that learn your listening preferences and help you discover new music that you are likely to like.
  • Travel planning websites that learn your travel adventure interests and currency specific travel plans just for you
  • GOOGLE Home and Amazon Alexa / Echo devices that personally interact with you and go out of their way to help you through your busy day

And then there are all those APPS that help us manage our day, like UBER, LYFT, Weather Channel, or communicate with others through Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Everyone is trying to cut back on effort and worry about daily tasks, although there is growing concern about the handover, theft and mismanagement of such a large amount of our personal information: advertisers, scammers and governments want more than her every day. When technology does its job well, users benefit by spending less time managing tasks and chores and spending more time doing the things they really love. As the Second Wave matures, innovations emerge that help and support us in decision-making, critical thinking (information discernment), and time management. The Second Wave brings us a plethora of helpers that make our daily life easier with helpful little keys.

So what about the next wave, the third wave? Now we are seeing this wave begin to form. Each wave begins with an innovative catalyst that leads to more opportunities for innovation, speculation and investment. There will be winners and losers along the way, but when the wave breaks, those with the best information and analysis will reap huge gains. A possible catalyst to start this Third Wave is Augmented Reality (AR), with innovations that could transcend the iPhone and all Smartphones, making them obsolete. Augmented reality is different from virtual reality (VR) in that augmented reality overlays graphics and images on the real world around you, kind of like the Pokemon Go game that became wildly popular on smartphones a few years ago. AR is also the technology used by fighter pilots for the Heads-Up-Displays (HUD) in the cockpit of their fighter jets. If you put advanced AR capability in a pair of glasses, with voice, gesture or eye movement controls, all current smartphone capabilities could be achieved with a pair of glasses. Google glasses first appeared in 2013 and the project morphed into Google Glass Enterprise in 2017. Recently, a highly valued private company, Magic Leap, launched an AR headset called Magic Leap One. These are first-generation devices and still they have not achieved significant consumer adoption. Like waves one and two, third wave innovations may seem like science fiction, but we tend to always underestimate the speed of progress and the depth of amazing ideas and devices that are sure to change our lives.

Stay tuned!

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