Customer Engagement Will You Turn Your Body into a Human Smartphone?

O2 photo of woman using hand to make call
Jan112018

Are you ready to turn your body into a human smartphone? And if you are, how will you secure the data your body transmits?

These are a couple of the thought-provoking question raised by the ‘Future of Mobile Life’ report that O2 issued in the UK just before the holiday period. Some of the more eye-catching predictions pose questions such as “What if we replaced mobile devices with a mobile tech enabled body?” The report describes how “sensors embedded in the skin and augmented reality visors worn at all times will provide wearable tech to make humans a walking version of everything the handheld device is to us in 2017”.

In what sounds like the lead-up to a Black Mirror episode, 56% of the consumers surveyed for the research said they would consider augmenting their bodies in such a way if there were practical convenience benefits such as health monitoring, foreign language translation or unlocking doors.

Forget Google Glass — O2 suggest augmented reality visors or contact lenses will be worn by almost everybody on a permanent basis so that simple activities such as walking down the street will provide overlays which “share common interests between passers-by, showing information such as their favourite TV show or music choice”. Given the social media driven world we inhabit today, it isn’t too difficult to imagine such a world, even if it does conjure images of Tom Cruise being bombarded with personalised augmented reality pop-up adverts in Minority Report (one day, marketers, one day).

Regardless of whether visions of a human smartphone are borne out, it is likely that some form of mobile device will continue to play an increasingly intrinsic part as our gateway to daily life and being central to everything we do. And with that come the concerns around how personal data is regulated, stored, used and accessed.

Securing Your Augmented Body

The theory of being able to connect with like-minded individuals or companies as they walk past one another sounds like an extension of privacy settings on today’s apps (imagine how long-winded the terms and conditions might be), but security and identifying potentially fraudulent behaviour will become more important than ever, particularly if criminals were able to see everything you see or feel everything you feel by accessing your visor and sensors. Or track your real-time vital signs.

With the report suggesting that physical security credentials (keys and passes) and documentation (passports, visas, insurance certificates) could disappear in the next decade, there will be some fundamental questions for organisations and individuals to consider when it comes to protecting themselves and their customers. Cybersecurity protections and fraud monitoring systems will continue to evolve and take advantage of the vast amount of real-time streaming data generated, and artificial intelligence will continue to adapt and spot abnormalities in the data that can be used to identify threats.

Furthermore, the predictions throughout the report are centred around consumers trading convenience against an ever-increasing reliance on tech. So, it isn’t a difficult leap to conclude that industries and companies offering services through emerging mobile technology will continue to need to make instant, data-driven decisions at scale in order to personalise the experience for each customer.

Prescriptive analytics coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning technology are already helping organisations to build competitive advantage by unlocking new sources of value creation. As mobility continues to turn science fiction into fact though the coming decades, and even the potential era of the human smartphone, powerful data analytics and decision management platforms will underpin business innovation.

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