Writing an ebook is e-xciting

At Design Concepts, we live and breathe innovation every day. It's our job and our passion.

This spring, we sent industrial designer Chris Harris and mechanical engineer Justen England to South by Southwest Interactive (SxSWi) with a particular interest in the new MedTech Expo. The speakers, discussions and technology on display got us thinking about where technology is at right now, where it's poised to go and how individuals and societies will adapt.

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, wearables ... as designers and engineers we have bumped into the limitations of current technology. At SxSWi, we got a peek at what life might be like once challenges such as battery life and the "uncanny valley" are solved.

With open source development, crowdfunding and a corporate hunger for innovation, the pace of progress in many areas is rapidly accelerating. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are moving from the stuff of sci-fi movies to products on the market. Right now, much of this technology is being used for entertainment and lifestyle activities, such as gaming and fitness trackers. They're novelties, by and large, that have yet to meet with widespread adoption. Why? Many weables and smart devices have been designed because it's technologically possible without considering if the product truly provides a solution to a user need. Yes, I could open my front door with my smartphone, but if it's just as easy to use a key why would I spend $200 on a smart lock?

Technology at the Crossroads is our ebook that looks at where we are now, but it mostly looks forward. What's close on the horizon and how will our institutions, personal lives and even bodies adapt to a more entwined co-existence with technology? What's fascinating at this point in history is that there are far more questions than answers.

Some of the most promising innovations relate to personal health and disease management, yet the healthcare system is not designed to accommodate a more empowered customer. It's also designed to treat, not prevent. What will be needed to make the avaialble technology useful and effective for individuals and create a healthier society as a whole? There's a lot of work to be done.

Next week, we're sending a team to the O'Reilly Solid Conference in San Francisco to continue our immersion into the IoT. We'll be reporting back what we see and hear. But in the meantime, we hope you enjoy our first epublication.

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