2013 Smartphones Are So Last Year When I Can Program The World With My Face

December 28, 2012
Cover of "Hotel California"

Cover of Hotel California

Let’s reflect on one possible post 2013 future of smartphones and social, local and mobile in the context of a few stanzas of a famous Eagles song. In this scenario, The User is the Interface, the World is the Computer, and the Situation is the Network. The smartphone, on the other hand, is no longer the lynch pin of the mobile value proposition. Having your face as the primary interface may make privacy-minded folks recoil, but don’t hold it against the Eagles for being so visionary.  Consider a part of their 1976 Hotel California lyrics:

Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place

Such a lovely face

They livin’ it up at the Hotel California

What a nice surprise, bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,

The pink champagne on ice

And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’

And in the master’s chambers,

They gathered for the feast

“Relax, ” said the night man,

We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like,

But you can never leave! “

The Business Trip Scenario

You walk up to a beautiful hotel in San Francisco, and the cameras outside the door initiate facial recognition. As you enter, you are welcomed immediately, both on the smartphone in your carry on luggage, and more importantly on the interactive digital signage display that everyone in the hotel lobbies and elevators can see. Immediately, and without prompts, your hotel arrival makes its way to your various location-based social apps (e.g., Foursquare, LinkedIn, Hotel discount club, and In-house and local restaurants via open table). You immediately begin receiving a daily Yelp list of offers and helpful content from everyone in town who fits your preferences and wants a piece of your wallet.

Your close friends on Google+ and Facebook who live locally are surprised by a text of your hotel arrival. They click to ping your Trip Advisor to see your note to friends about your purpose for being in town, and potential availability or unavailability. You do not have to check in, the bell hop remotely activates the card key app on your smartphone as he loads your luggage on his cart. Ticketmaster matches your music preferences to the local performances, and advises you via the elevator screen that the Eagles are playing tomorrow night at the Hollywood Bowl, and the best tickets available are $125 seats in the 3rd row left of center.  The bell hop asks if you are going to see the Eagles tomorrow night, and offers to book the tickets for you that will be placed on your hotel bill, mentioning he will get a commission if you buy later using the code on your digital receipt.

When you reach your room, your smartphone automatically pairs with the e-lock, and the door opens. Your bellhop uses a sweeping arm gesture recognition to open the drapes, revealing a dramatic city view from the 20th floor. You enter and see a mirror on the bedroom ceiling and, surprise, there’s a note on the room’s digital display (or next gen TV) from your rather free spirited hippie ex-girlfriend that she is in fact free tomorrow night, next to a hotel reminder ad suggesting her favorite champagne. The room display apprises that your boss has already arrived from Singapore, and the team will be waiting for you in his suite for a working prime rib dinner at 6 pm, business casual. After that, you are committed to drinks and karaoke with Tokyo customers in the hotel bar. The room camera combined with voice recognition of you saying your email address brings up your messaging and you fire off a Siri-like confirmation reply to your boss via the display. Then you begin to wonder what alibis you will have to make to get out of dinner with the team tomorrow night so that you can take your ex to the Eagles concert. You also note that another guest from the lobby is selling his Tesla Roadster, the one you recently re-tweeted. The bell-hop reminds you that you do not need to formally check-out, as the databases, limo service, hotel cameras and sensors will know when you leave for the airport, and adjust your hotel bill by the hour.

Where is Your Smartphone?

All of this information, mobility and opportunity, and guess what – your smartphone has still never left the pocket of your carry on.  The world around you has been programmed to receive, and you can never leave your face behind. It’s a brave new world, and you are no longer a prisoner of your own device. So, what will be the next wave of mobile technology as smartphone penetration begins to level off? According to the Eagles, your face, by extension, is the primary part of the inter-face. The User is the Interface, the World is the Computer, and the Situation is the Network. I’ll post more detailed information on this vision of social, local and mobile evolution and the future of smartphones and tablets in my 2013 posts.