Smart technology has the power to dramatically alter consumer trends, social norms, and the way we interact with the world around us. Over the last 30-some years, we’ve seen the creation of the internet, Photoshop, portable GPS, mobile broadband, and Google Search. Within a short period of time, each of these inventions has significantly shaped reality. As the effects of the pandemic ramp up these already rapid technological advancements, it’s certainly worth considering what our futures may look like over the next few decades and what this may mean for existing devices, such as smartphones.

In our last article, we explored some of the ways integrated smart technology can impact fitness, sports, and safety. Today, we’re focusing on what these advancements in technology could mean for gaming and entertainment. We’ll also highlight an emerging virtual environment and discuss what living in a smart world might look like.

Smart technology in gaming and entertainment

When topics of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart technology come up, some of the first industries you may think of are gaming and entertainment—and it’s no wonder why. Often, these industries are at the forefront of innovation. In the fall of 2021, Panasonic and Square Enix teamed up to launch the SC-GNO1, a ‘wearable immersive gaming speaker system’ (WIGS) that they marketed as the Majestic Augmented Gaming Environment Sound System (MAGESS). This immersive speaker system is designed to be worn on your shoulders to deliver an up-close and personal surround sound experience.

Forbes’ senior contributor John Archer notes that this system delivers “a more intense, realistic, and enveloping gaming soundscape… into which details such as footsteps, gunfire, and so on are placed with performance-enhancing accuracy.”

MAGESS features neodymium magnets to accentuate sharp sounds, a noise and echo-canceling dual microphone, and four full-range speakers to deliver sound from every direction.

While this technology is making its debut in the gaming industry, it also contains presets that allow users to enjoy their favorite music and cinematic experiences in a “surround-sound-for-one” type of environment.

Read more: The Future of Integrated Smart Technology: Sports and Fitness

Virtual environments

The pandemic affected more than just the handful of consumer industries mentioned in this article—it affected the way we interact with each other on every level. From local lockdowns to widespread social distancing, many of the social norms we grew used to changed dramatically over a short period of time and we’re still feeling those effects. Forbes contributor Andrea Zarczynski notes that “the pandemic accelerated the development of technologies that have enabled businesses to operate efficiently and people to safely enjoy new forms of entertainment.”

Two of the biggest tools at the forefront of these technologic advances are virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). According to the Forbes Agency Council, the market value for VR and AR is expected to increase to $97 billion by 2025—and we’re already starting to see what a future that blurs the lines between reality and virtual reality may look like.

ARKH is the world’s first consumer-ready spatial computer startup which recently secured $3.7 million in an extended seed round to obtain design patents, hardware, and manufacturing tools. This technology uses an AR-powered wearable ring that ARKH claims individuals can use to “reimagine their physical space by anchoring interactive, virtual elements.”

The ARKH ecosystem consists of three primary parts: a wearable device called the ARKH ring, a desktop hub, and an app. “The hub is a desktop device that maps virtual assets against a physical space while the ring is the world’s first AR-powered wearable device that works as a virtual controller similar to a computer mouse,” Zarczynski explains. “An interactive app then pairs any AR-enabled smartphone with an AR kit to overlay those assets on screen, enabling users to create their own unique, personalized shared spaces.”

People can use the ARKH ring to decorate rooms with furniture and items, cast videos on virtual screens, and play exclusive games. ARKH CEO Landon Nickerson states that users will also be able to create, share, discover, and monetize every element of this social AR platform.

But how soon can you expect this type of technology to become available to consumers? Forbes claims we could see the first AR-powered wearable ring from ARKH launch in 2022. Nickerson also seems optimistic about this timeline, saying “in five years, I believe everyone will understand the benefit of spatial computing and data–it will be different to imagine a world without it.”

Read more: The Future of Integrated Smart Technology: Health & Wellness

Living in a smart world

While no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, it’s clear that smart technology is changing every aspect of our lives, from healthcare and fitness to gaming and social interactions. As Allison Johnson writes in an article for The Verge about the future of the smartphone, “in the most sci-fi-fueled visions of the next 10 years, a phone isn’t something we carry around with us–it’s everywhere.”

For those of us who have already begun integrating devices like Alexa into our homes, this idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Today, we can walk into our living room and turn on our lights, television, and speakers with a simple voice command. We can use the same IoT devices to turn on our outdoor Christmas lights, brew a pot of coffee, change the temperature of our homes, check the weather, and receive immediate news updates.

As we look toward the future, we expect to see this type of technology become more integrated in our lives outside of the home. In this world, streetlights, bus stops, and even public trashcans could be equipped with IoT devices. Johnson goes on to theorize that “rather than face the onerous task of taking a phone out of your pocket, unlocking it, opening the right app, and typing words on its little screen, the world around us will simply be equipped to do the tedious stuff for us.”

And what’s more, these devices may even have the ability to predict our needs and desires. Imagine a world where instead of checking your refrigerator to add milk to your grocery list, “your shopping cart already talked to your refrigerator and knows what you need to buy, which aisle it’s on, and how to pay for it all once you’re done,” explains Johnson.

While privacy must remain a top priority for us to implement successful innovation and integration in this space, the possibilities for advancement are endless. With access to AI, 5G, the IoT, and natural voice recognition, we’re at a pivotal moment in time—one that may result in the smartphone no longer being the central hub for everything. With new prototypes and technologies emerging every day, the words of esteemed speculative fiction writer William Gibson feel appropriate, “the future has arrived—it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

Related: 7 Upcoming Megatrends To Tap Into

Additional resources on smart technology

Interested in learning more about smart technology in the health and wellness industries? Here are some resources we found useful when writing this article:

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