2017 Technology Predictions

South African integrator and CEDIA instructor Christiaan Beukes offers some reflections and musings on where his company stands, and the technologies he will be looking at adopting, and trying, over the next 12 months.

Disconnecting to connect

We live in a society that is manically dependant on internet connectivity. It’s now part of Maslow’s revised ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ for the 21st Century.

But exactly how much time do you spend on your phone? How many times do you catch yourself refreshing your Facespacetwitgramsnap feed waiting for something new to happen to a distant relative whom you’ve never actually spoken too?

I believe that in 2017, we will realise that we all need a wakeup call. We need to stop focussing on the connection, and focus more on being connected – in person; tangible reality, not faceless, screen-voyeuristic reality from the palm of our hands.

We will put the devices away when we have no specific need for them.

We all need to stop focusing on the non-urgent-but-immediately-apparent things and reorientate ourselves to the single-task mindset again.

The personalised luxury immersive experience

Two things that are not on the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs are most definitely hi-fi and home cinema. They’re luxury items that we don’t ‘need’ – unlike water, food and shelter – but oh how we want them.

So if we want to get our industry out of the dreadful ditch of mass market mediocrity then we need to learn how to sell luxury.

Look at the brands that are successful. Apple is a luxury. Boss is a luxury. BMW is a luxury. Go into any one of these brands’ stores and what encounter have is a refined experience. Every possible thing has been tailored to ignite a desire to own that product, to own that product experience.

Other industries – particularly food and beverage – are spectacular at creating an atmosphere. As an industry we need to bring back the art of the proper demo. Not just pressing play on one of the five pairs of speakers lined up like toy soldiers in a room on either side of the latest flat screen TV. That’s not a demo.

Spend time immersing your clients in a visual and auditory experience that is unrivalled and uncompromised. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, or be a special size and shape, but it does have to be luxurious.

Create an experience for a client that they can relate to more easily than purchasing a million dollars of hi-fi equipment. You’ll be surprised how effective a bit of well rehearsed ‘theatrics’ can be. Just don’t make it too obvious.

Anonymity as a luxury

Every day, faceless data-loggers are archiving records of even our most mundane activities. They’re building up a profile of you so they can ship you stuff you’ve not even paid for, probably don’t need, but would happily not return once you’ve opened the box and seen it. They own you. They are the powerhouses of tomorrow’s purchase. Your future is being built on the archives of your past. Dirty secrets and all are coming back to potentially haunt you.

This is the problem with always being connected; we’re sacrificing a lot of private data and giving big corporates a lot of information to leverage. We can easily imagine a future scenario where people really do require that their privacy is taken more seriously, and they’re going to be willing to pay other people to make sure their data isn’t getting out there. We should be the people getting paid.

Cyber and data security will be big business for the next 12-18 months.

Hi-fi making a comeback

Dedicated music systems are making a comeback. People are tired of consuming all the instant content on their instant devices at low and below acceptable quality standards. We’ve deteriorated into a quantity over quality generation, and people are tiring of it. Resurgence in two channel has already been seen over the last 6 months, and it’s only going to grow as people flock back to vinyl (yes, another craze!) and premium quality streaming solutions.

There are fantastic companies in the marketplace who are focussing on very advanced technical processing for correcting rooms, even allowing consumers to use their older speakers and give them completely new life.

Mixed/Augmented/Virtual Reality

Reality is something we’re all very much immersed in every day – it would be strange if we weren’t. The IoT with all its connected wearables, big data production and contact lenses augmenting your view are all aspects of reality which we’re going to see expand and diversify.

Alongside this we will see the proliferation of predictive algorithms that take the place of regular old logic – we already have this on our Facebook profile pages popping up with crazy adverts related to our browsing history. These aspects will all eventually merge to form an augmented reality that rivals our actual reality.

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