Complex Made Simple

The Internet of Senses: Sci-fi or your brains wired with super wi-fi?

A new report by Ericsson, suggests that by 2030, the virtual reality office will enable people to experience all of the senses, including touch, taste, smell, and even temperature

It is a “dematerialized office,” one in which we interact professionally entirely in virtual realms 73% of senior managers think that it will be possible to have digitally enhanced cafeteria food Wearables that can simulate air conditioning like in a conference room, can mimic the temperature of any environment

A new report by Ericsson, suggests that by 2030, the virtual reality office will enable people to experience all of the senses, including touch, taste, smell, and even temperature.

Offices will become “dematerialized” with workers depending upon virtual environments that go well beyond just sight and sound to conduct business. 

Could a virtual workplace actually allow someone working from home to be completely immersed in their environment, including sounds, smells, temperatures, and even tastes?

The report is based upon survey data gathered from almost 8,000 workers from around the globe that they classified as early adopters of Augmented or Virtual Reality (AR/VR) as well as other cutting-edge virtual workplace technologies. 

The study also acts as a follow-up to an earlier report that explored consumer trends around a vision of the future that Ericsson calls “The Internet of Senses.”

What is the Internet of Senses?

As described by Ericsson, the Internet of Senses takes trends from the Internet of Things (IoT) to the next level, where the online experience goes beyond sight and sound on flat screens. 

It is a “dematerialized office,” one in which we interact professionally entirely in virtual realms rather than physical offices outside of our homes.

Six key findings based upon respondents’ answers

1. Half of survey respondents said that they want a workstation that allows them to feel like they are really present at work, wherever they are actually working from. Additionally, 6 in 10 said they want the same for virtual warehouses or stores for buying or selling products.

2. 6 in 10 see the recent increase in online meetings as permanent but need more tools to better support remote interactions with colleagues, customers, and suppliers.

3. For internal uses at companies, 73% of senior managers think that it will be possible to have digitally enhanced cafeteria food that can taste like anything.

4. Virtual shopping experiences, for example, could become the norm. Imagine being able to shop for products in a virtual environment that allows you to digitally handle products, feel the textures of things like clothing or furniture, or even smell perfumes and foods.

5. The opportunity for unique virtual team-building experiences. The report gives an example of virtually traveling to ancient Pompeii with your team, sampling the foods of ancient Rome, and even feeling the heat from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Read: Alphabet shuts down Loon, the company that wanted to provide the world with internet using balloons

Read: How the Travel Industry Is Affected by the Internet of Things (IoT)

Key Technologies for the Internet of Senses

1- Spatial video tech: The use of AR and VR will replace physical meetings or product presentations, with the ability to interact as if you were actually there.

2- Sound technology: Earphones that can automatically translate between languages, devices that enable the hearing impaired to work and interact by transmitting sounds to the brain, and voice-changing microphones ideal for customer support calls. 

3- Digital Temperature: Wearables that can simulate air conditioning like in a conference room, simulates the experience of temperature in a warehouse or store, and can mimic the temperature of any environment you are visiting.

4- Digital Touch: Touchscreens that allow you to feel buttons or shapes, earphones that mimic the physical impact of sounds and loud production equipment, and wearables that use weather forecasts to simulate the feeling of wind, rain, storms, or heat waves.

5- Digital Smell: Sensors that send alerts about smelly trash cans or restrooms to facilities staff, and the ability to digitally convey the scent of food or clothing for marketing, like the smell of a new car to a potential customer.

6- Brain Tech: Thought-based interfaces that give you the ability to think commands to open documents or navigate your virtual environment.

7- Digital Taste: The ability to convey the taste of sweets or foods for marketing, or during a shared coffee break with colleagues.

Your internet brain in 2030 

From that first use of the term Internet of Things, fast-forward 20 years, and humanity contemplates the birth of The Internet of Senses, one of the emerging consumer technology trends for 2021 and toward 2030.

Here is an introductory summary of the consumer tech trends report and the Internet of Senses (IoS).

Your brain is the user interface

By 2030, you may be able to search for routes simply by wearing AR glasses and thinking of the destination.  

Many predict that by 2030, the lines between thinking and doing will blur. 59% of consumers believe that we will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination.

By 2030, technology is set to respond to our thoughts, and even share them with others.  

According to the 10 Hot Consumer Trends Report, Using the brain as an interface could mean the end of keyboards, mice, game controllers, and ultimately user interfaces for any digital device. The user needs to only think about the commands, and they will just happen. Smartphones could even function without touch screens.

Have you ever met someone who seemingly knows you, and yet you cannot place them, or even remember their name?

This problem will be eliminated by 2030 as according to 54% of consumers, in response to thought requests, AR glasses will show them information about people they meet, such as their name, or where they met before.

Thoughts fully accessible by technology

How would you like your thoughts to become fully accessible by technology?  

Around half of all respondents believe that by 2030 our minds will essentially be connected. They expect to have the ability to reply to short messages using only thoughts.  

But then again, what about those thoughts you do not want to share with anyone?

People do not want advertisers to access their minds. Well above 50% say data will be private for any thought service concept we asked about, with 70% saying that thought data for locking and unlocking their front doors needs to be private.   

 For more on the internet of senses and what people expect in 2030, read this report.