According to IDC analysts, worldwide wearable device shipments are set to grow a staggering 510.9% from 2014 to this year. As we sit in the wake of mass adoption of wearable technology, some are already looking ahead to the next evolution in personal technology usage.
In fact, in a recent survey conducted by the IEEE, it was reported that “mind control” is set to be the technology of choice in 10 years’ time. When respondents were asked which tasks they’d most like to accomplish with the power of the mind, answers included the ability to lock and unlock doors, control appliances, and turn lights on and off.
To most, this discovery may seem ludicrous, unrealistic, or just plain science fiction. But if we examine this from a socio-psychological perspective, these findings may demonstrate a natural progression in both technological capabilities and user expectations.
In 1890, William James noted in The Principles of Psychology that “man’s self is the sum total of all he can call his.” These notions of “self” and “ownership” remain powerful constructs in explaining our acceptance of technology today.
Technology is, in essence, a “tool,” and the usage of tools to achieve outcomes greater than human capacity is a vital component of our behavioral repertoire. In the Journal of Consumer Research, a scholarly publication, it is written that our resulting interaction with possessions to achieve outcomes augments our capabilities, and therefore symbolically “extends the self” through psychological ownership.
With the mass adoption of smart devices demonstrating a pervasive “self-extension” in everyday life, our psychological propensity to reach beyond our physical capacity, while also manipulating and interacting with our environment, looks set to spur the next wave of technology ownership. According to the IDC, this wave is primed to explode almost exclusively as a result of the introduction of smart wrist-wear.
Growing trust and dependence on personal technology is paving the way towards a refined convergence of smart technology and our own innate capabilities. With the advent of mind control on the horizon, will the line between ownership and “self” exist? Or is what was written back in 1890 becoming both symbolically and physically true? In other words, as technology’s physical presence shrinks, it seems our “extended self” is set to grow.
Our capability to control devices in a hands-free way using directives from our brainwaves marks integration with technology that transcends spatial boundaries and demonstrates true user mobility. But what does this ability mean for the infrastructure that must support it?
As the landscapes of corporate and consumer technology continue to converge, they are increasingly set to make major strides in the not-so-distant future. This posited leap in technological and personal ability demands a Wi-Fi infrastructure that is prepared to anticipate and satisfy the relentlessly increasing demand for capacity and performance.
Wi-Fi, of course, is an integral tool in achieving our everyday tasks, and therefore facilitating the extension of our physical periphery. As the line between possession and self is blurred even further, will Wi-Fi become a major construct in psychological ownership?
Is mind control a natural progression in our ever-increasing adoption of technology in the Internet of Things? Or is it still too mystifying to comprehend?
The acceptance of mind-controlled technology depends on an evolutionary shift in expectations. After all, not so long ago it was stated that “there is a world market for maybe five computers.” We have made colossal leaps in technology adoption since then, and this trend only looks to accelerate exponentially into the future. Therefore, it becomes ever more important to cease looking at the market for what it is, and start looking at the world for what it could become.
This blog post originally appears here.