Dematerialization—A Pathway for Innovation

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

Technology is ever-changing and constantly improving. The ability to reduce the amount of material it takes to build the physical things that accomplish digital tasks is revolutionary and, likewise, growing as fast as the industries they serve a purpose in.

A Perfect Dematerialization Example

Wearable technology—which in recent years has increased in speed and memory while becoming one of the smallest computer devices in our lives—is a perfect example of how quickly dematerialization has improved modern technology. Smart watches, among other wearable digital devices, are the current example of how computers have shrunk and ultimately become more integrated in our lives because of how easily they can be worn and ignored until needed. They are lighter, more portable, more economical (in terms of the materials it takes to produce them), and softer in environmental impact.

Prior to the abundance of wearable technology, tablets and smartphones slowly put laptops and desktop computers to shame, as even the most portable laptops used to be several inches thick and weigh six or seven pounds. The market for a smaller, streamlined personal computing device brought us the iPad and the Microsoft Surface; however, today, wearable devices use a fraction of the material and accomplish far more than their ancestors—and cost far less. Plus, your main personal computer—the computer you use the most—had become your smartphone, which was something portable, multipurpose, and a device that supplied you with far more beneficial features than any computer you have used in the past.

Transformation

 A different example associated with wearable technology and smart devices is the progression of recorded music. Decades ago, record players and in-home audio systems were the only means to listen to recorded music. Eventually, car radios came along, where you could hear music while you travel. Soon after, the emergence of cassette tapes and compact discs brought the creation of portable CD and tape players, and the early ‘90s saw the dematerialization of bulky sound systems down to mini-boomboxes to bring outside while you played basketball.

Steve Jobs and the iPod yet again revolutionized and dematerialized recorded music players by allowing you to have thousands of songs in your pocket, though even those were clunky when they emerged. As streaming services displaced CD sales, smartphones and wireless headphones yet again made listening to music at the gym or on a bicycle ride even simpler, though you’d often have to strap the smartphone to your bicep. Finally, wearable technology now allows the same streaming technology paired with wireless headphones, making listening to music anywhere while doing nearly anything completely possible.

Whatever your company has, you can make it smaller—that is, if you want to. On the other hand, we don’t necessarily want to make everything smaller, and dematerialization doesn’t necessarily mean miniaturization. For example, we have the capacity to make our cars much, much smaller, but we may not necessarily want that for all models. Smart cars and some fully electric vehicles can benefit; however, a Ford F250 becoming the size of a Chevy Volt will take away from the hauling capabilities.

So how do you make something lighter without shrinking it completely? Dematerialize components of it, as seen in the newer models of Ford’s GT500. Its components have been dematerialized and are now lighter, making it faster than the Dodge Demon in a quarter mile, while not needing as heavy of an engine. Same size car, faster than ever before.

Ask yourself, “What would we want to make smaller? What would add value by making it smaller?” Take a look at just about everything you have related to your products and your services, and always consider the pros and cons of what you can dematerialize.

Learn about the Eight Hard Trend Pathways to Innovation and how you can identify and develop game-changing opportunities in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Augmented Reality Defined with Opportunities

Now that the Three Digital Accelerators have improved enough to enhance smart glasses, consumer use will increase. Imagine walking down a busy street in New York City searching for the perfect slice of pizza. It would benefit you to be wearing AR glasses that can quickly scan the area for a highly recommended restaurant per consumer reviews. Wearing the technology rather than having your eyes divert to your phone is faster and safer.

Several years ago, I started using an augmented reality (AR) app for my smartphone whenever I ventured into the mountains. It was quite useful; I could point my device at any mountain to see information overlaid on the image. When I moved my device around, the information changed to correspond with what I saw.

Google Glass was an early example of AR glasses. However, the Three Digital Accelerators(computing power, digital storage and bandwidth) I first identified in 1983 as the drivers of predictable exponential change were not advanced enough when this product emerged, and miniaturization of components had not reached the level needed to make the glasses look like regular glasses.

While few consumers tried them, Google Glass opened the eyes of entrepreneurs to see future possibilities. Surgeons used Google Glass to watch a patient’s vitals without taking their eyes off the surgical area, warehouse workers used them to locate products needing boxing, and universities used them to enhance student engagement in science lab classes.

The Future of AR

Now that the Three Digital Accelerators have improved enough to enhance smart glasses, consumer use will increase. Imagine walking down a busy street in New York City searching for the perfect slice of pizza. It would benefit you to be wearing AR glasses that can quickly scan the area for a highly recommended restaurant per consumer reviews. Wearing the technology rather than having your eyes divert to your phone is faster and safer.

I envision that the earpiece of your AR glasses will act as a rheostat, allowing you to fade the information in or out. As a keynote speaker, wearing a pair of AR glasses that allow me to see the names of audience members would be helpful, and by adjusting the fade control, turning off the information as needed will be helpful. This does not exist – yet. One of the principles I teach is “If it can be done, it will be done, and if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

It’s clear that practical uses for AR are ripe with opportunity. After acquiring smart glasses lens manufacturer Akonia Holographics in August 2018, Apple has been working on AR products. This positions the company to positively disrupt the industry, along with Microsoft and Facebook, which are working on AR glasses of their own.

Outside the US, Chinese technology giant Huawei is creating its own version of smart glasses. Its latest device, the Mate 20 Pro smartphone, already utilizes augmented reality apps predominately, but the company suggest that AR glasses are definitely in the works.

The company will bring more AR experiences to the Mate 20 Pro so its customers can use AR more widely before releasing its smart glasses. By better perfecting the user experience, they are pre-solving predictable problems, following one of my core principles.

Outside of AR, Huawei is a serious player in consumer electronics. It recently displaced Apple as being the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, expanded its digital products and even ventured into the world of smart speakers.

In comparison with virtual reality (VR), AR is developing faster for several reasons.

1)   VR requires the user to be cut off from the real world in order to be fully immersed in a virtual world,while AR allows the user to see the real world simultaneously.

2)   VR requires time-intensive graphic programming in order to create a photo-realistic 3D world, limiting the ability to attract the talent needed to grow as fast as AR.

3)   VR headsets are cumbersome compared to AR glasses.

Augmented reality represents a new platform for launching game-changing products and services. If you want to profit from this fast-growing industry, focus on being anticipatory by identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and their related opportunities to lead change.

If you would like to learn how to become more anticipatory in the new world of augmented reality, be sure to pick up my latest book The Anticipatory Organization today!

Don’t Miss AR’s Amazing Opportunities

Augmented reality (AR) is a new industry growing at an exponential rate, loaded with opportunities for job creation. It offers a playground for entrepreneurs who want to use the certainty of Hard Trends to their advantage.

Augmented reality (AR) is a new industry growing at an exponential rate, loaded with opportunities for job creation. It offers a playground for entrepreneurs who want to use the certainty of Hard Trends to their advantage.

What’s most exciting about AR is that it is much easier to develop than virtual reality (VR), which requires a lot of programming and photo-realistic graphics in order to create a fully immersive virtual world.

AR takes less time and money to develop. Data is overlaid onto a live view of something, and users can multitask, allowing them to work while simultaneously accessing important information.

Both AR and VR have a bright future, but AR represents a much more dynamic world of opportunity. For example, I use an AR app that allows me to hold my smartphone up to any mountain, and the app will tell me the height of the mountain, the length of the trails, and other useful data that can help me determine where I might want to hike, climb or bike on vacation.

AR can also engage tourists who are in a new city for the first time. When you’re on a street in New York, you can tell an app what type of shoes you’re looking for, and all you have to do is hold your smartphone up and pan around to see if any nearby stores have what you want.

Soon we’ll be wearing AR glasses that are connected via Bluetooth to an AR app that will allow keynote speakers like myself to see the people we’re talking to, but also see their names, and by moving our fingers along the earpiece of the glasses, we’ll switch from no data to full data.

The Augmented Reality Job Market

We are in the beginning stages of a burgeoning AR market. I would highly recommend entering the world of AR professionally sooner than later. The wide-scale application of AR is only limited by our imaginations, and early developers in the field have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.

Given the wide range of industries that will benefit from AR, I predict that in the next few years we will see a multitude of usages, especially when AR glasses hit the market. Likewise, the glasses themselves will be more aesthetically pleasing thanks to the growth of miniaturization. Prescription AR glasses will be made available for those who need them, changing the usage dynamic from smartphone apps to wearables.

If you are considering a career in AR, it’s important to think about the ideal industry that would benefit from it, such as sales, service, maintenance and repair, factories, retail stores, and real estate offices. There’s a market for it in the trades as well, as AR glasses can be used to help people train quickly to become tradespeople to keep up with growing demand.

Within five years, we will see high-fashion AR glasses worn by many people. Data will be more frequently overlaid on our surrounding environment, and video media will be included. It is already possible to 3-D print a 4K camera that is the size of a fly’s eye, and with advances in solar charging, getting energy from ambient light will help us avoid the concern of charging AR glasses.

The Positives and the Negatives

With every new industry there are positives and negatives. In augmented reality, the greatest positive is quite clear: increasing humankind’s ability to make better decisions faster.

However, there is always a downside that we must look to solve before it occurs. The most obvious risk is that you might be paying more attention to the data than to the visual reality and walk into danger. When it comes to using digital technology, there is always a time to unplug. The concept of misinformation also exists, where the data overlaying your environment could be hacked and also put you in danger. Always remember to anticipate risks and think critically.

The future is bright for augmented reality for entrepreneurs and consumers. Ultimately, the industry will develop practical uses much faster than in the world of virtual reality. Virtual reality business applications will find many great niche markets, but augmented reality can be used by anyone anywhere due to the user’s ability to multitask.

The best thing about augmented reality is that you can use it while still interacting with the real world, which is very powerful. It does not encourage us to close ourselves off from our physical existence; it allows us to see insightful information in real time. It will give us a new way to discover the hidden facts that bring the things in our world to life.

We’re only at the base of the mountain of change, and the time to start your climb upward is now!

Technology-driven change is accelerating at an exponential rate, but moving fast in the wrong direction will only get you into trouble faster! Reacting to problems and digital disruptions, no matter how agile you and your organization are, is no longer good enough. If you don’t already have a copy of my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization, click here to get your copy now!