5 Trends Ushering Intimacy In 2011

If you have not spent that holiday bonus yet, plant it on these intimacy-inducing trends bound to appear or accelerate in 2011.

Simple Gets Simpler: Successful online and mobile experiences will become much closer to being intuitive than ever before, anticipating not the geek’s natural next clicks but the average Jane’s. I’m not talking about Web 2.X, with its big buttons, oversize input boxes and Ajax popovers but rather one action to the next dictated by the glassy smoothness of an inhale following and exhale. This is true behavioural anticipation leaving no room for confusion and no time for pause. Simple = successful.

Location Inside: Intel marketing might have popularised the concept in the ’90s but expect to see location detection capability – and its exploitation – to impregnate numerous things with a battery or charge. I’m thinking beyond standard communications devices and downward to household items, children’s toys and children themselves (where’s my Teddy Bear / TV  remote control / mischievous husband / Ted?). This is the year everything not nailed down joins – for better or worse – the grid. Location will become embedded like a ratings-hungry TV journo in Afghanistan. Are you being followed or are you silently telling the world where you are? This year will sort the semantics.

Ultra Local and Predictability: Enabling some of the above – and some of the potentially creepier things below – is of course the improvement in the accuracy of location detection — the narrowing of the radius and sensing of the vertical axis. GPS, triangulation, assisted GPS — that’s all nice. But I expect to see the use of device-based accelerometers and gyroscopes; crowd-sourced location data providing predictive detection; not to mention the burgeoning area of Near Field Communication (NFC) as a catalyst for collecting and passing data points. Take a thousand people, anonymously track behaviour over a statistically significant period of time (movement and purchase and communication actions) then combine that past data with realtime actions of users with mobile phones and you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen next (or what should). It’s out of the macro and into micro level for location.

PDA: Ego. We all have it, just some more than others. For the some, get ready to be indulged — Personal Data Analysis for the everyman has arrived. For years we’ve been able to do this at a rudimentary level: track the number of friends and actions on a social network, see how many have read our blogs, downloaded our pictures, watched our vids and so on. And for the more serious, there’s Google Analytics for personal Websites where one can break down trends and see how many people from Norway clicked through. But I’m talking about tracking in simpler, more natural and, frankly, pleasing way — even beyond what the elegant Bit.ly provides or Chartbeat or even About.me . Expect to see:

  • More realtime results of visitors / viewers / commenters to you.com.
  • Beautiful dashboards of data and useful information that you can actually interact with, modifying virtual knobs and dials to adjust how people see and interact with you online
  • Natural data points that make more sense to the regular person, with a focus on information that affects people not from a business perspective but through a series of adjustable social filters. How popular am I today? This hour? What can I do to draw more attention to X or Y?

Peek-a-whoa! Cameras have been everywhere for some time, and I’m not just referring to security cams  in malls and those surreptitiously tucked inside other retail and corporate centres. With location technology, ever-smaller and finer cameras, 4G technology and streaming platforms expect to see non-techies buying and setting up fixed and mobile nets to capture a whole lot of nothing-as-it-happens video and occasional breathtaking events – even some that are safe for family viewing. The next step will be the opening up / sharing of these broadcasts for anyone to tap, for good or ill. Think Justin.tv meets Earthcam meets accessibility and relevance.

So get ready for more intimacy, more useful information about yourself and what others are doing in relation to you, more tuning of your mobile life and a Global Village that looks more like a Global Living Room. Find startups making this happen and, ladies and gents, place your bets.

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