It’s all about the medium.
Michael Porter (Porter’s five forces) describes – in his write-up on “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition” – the 3 major revolutions of information technology:
- First came the “…automated individual activities in the value chain, from order processing and bill paying to computer-aided design and manufacturing resource planning.” Around the 1960s and 70s
- Next, in the 1990’s came the internet, creating unparalleled information flow and infinite pathways of communication?
- The third… Enter the Internet of Things (What is the Internet of Things), aka the concept in which devices are always on, and they’re always communicating to better inform and interact with users.
During Wave 1, MS-DOS/Windows was the medium to bring mass adoption in the computing industry.
Wave 2, Google was the medium connecting the highly disparate universe that is the internet (using a PageRank algorithm based popularity and relevance).
For wave 3, could Amazon Echo be the medium that connects the flood of products being released for the Internet of Things?
No matter what your opinion is on Echo’s IoT impact, it is already changing lives.
Check this out (video includes all the surface features of Echo, and pay close attention @ the 60 second mark):
At the 60 second mark is a blind couple whom uses Echo to set timers.
“Somehow, I don’t think that Amazon had initially positioned Echo as an assistive device…” writes a commenter responding to a review about Echo entitled “Already very practical for overcoming disability issues”
It is this review that led me to write this post and pose the question about Echo as a Wave 3 medium above.
In this review a spouse writes about their husband’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease. The couple purchased Echo, a compatible IoT light system from Phillips called Lux, and another IoT switch called WeMo.
“We immediately installed the Hue bridge and lights as well as the WEMO outlet. With these, and dear, dear, Alexa, he has a great deal of control of his environment in ways that make him much more independent. Others might enjoy Echo for fun and convenience, but for him it is a lifeline! He has even had her turn the lights on in my bedroom when I didn’t hear him call.”
I was especially impressed with the last sentence. What the reviewer is saying is that Alexa hear the husband’s command to turn on the light even though the spouse didn’t, implying a great level of sound acuity.
“I was a bit worried at first about his word slurring with his Parkinson’s, but it has worked the opposite way! I notice he focuses his words much better while giving commands.”
“I won’t say it revolutionized our lives, but it has made our lives much more normal. We have recommended it to two Occupational Therapists, and his Home Healthcare director has recommended it for others. I am so excited it is now available for everyone. Amazon didn’t intend this as an assistive device, but it is an awesome one.”
There are over 130 comments to this single review, nearly 7,000 accounts have found the review helpful.
There are over 25,000 reviews and Echo has a 4.5 out of 5 rating, and this is not the only review to discuss Echo as an assistive device. There are many comments, many reviews describing the benefits Echo has brought to their lives.
I don’t have to explain how much of a marketing driver all these reviews, comments, and resulting word of mouth are.
But more importantly, think of the beautiful consequences to caregivers, PTSD/injured soldiers, or the handicapped.
Echo opens up a new world.
A hands free world where inquiry and information gathering occur in a whole new light filling gaps physical & mental limitations create.
This is when a medium truly props up a revolution. Windows propped up PCs, Google propped up websites near and far, and Echo is creating a bridge for us all to interact with our surroundings
at the touch of a screen through the still small whispers of a user’s voice.
Alexa (echo) is still learning, but with developers adding apps and software based updates, the “… the universe is very big”
The medium is everything, do you think Echo is the IoT wave 3 medium?