Recent years have seen an explosion of consumer-based technology: devices and processes designed for the general public by means of user-friendly functions and practical implications. The most popular example of this is the Google search engine, a service that is constantly reshaping its construction in response to user needs and trends. How will this recent trend of consumer-based technology shape the future of technology as a whole? Here are some ideas:
Consumer trends have shown a high profit in allowing more integrated content to be developed by a greater number of third party institutions. Fundamentally, this means that more independent developers can make programs that run well on advanced devices, like the iPhone. Apple has designed the iPhone with this level of customization in mind and in doing so, expanded the use and practicality of their devices. User-generated content is a direct byproduct of consumer-based technology.User-Friendly Applications
Because consumers drive the technological market, technology has been developed with user friendliness in mind. Remember Windows 97? Had Microsoft not updated each version of its operating system with more user-friendly features, they may not have maintained their status as a leading OS developer. Consumer-based technology has motivated developers to design easy-to-use products, which has affected the direction of technological innovation.User Involvement
With recent generations growing up with advanced technology, current consumers now want to interact on deeper levels with their technologies. Those products that allow greater interaction between user and device are quickly becoming the most successful. For example, the Xbox Kinect is a gaming system that allows the user to move independently of a handheld device in order to interact with the game. As demand increases, Microsoft has already found more innovative applications for this. With a wave of a hand you can browse movies on Netflix, send a message by email, and navigate the web.
As for most things in this world, a big motivation for technological advancement is profit. The profitability of any technology is dependent on the consumer, and as such, we have seen a tremendous uptick in consumer-based technology. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as these advancements have amazing possibilities. Doctors could one day customize a program to accurately diagnose diseases from patient to patient; program code could soon be so user friendly that anyone could become a web developer; and the technology behind user involvement could lead to all kinds of advanced motion capturing devices. The value inherit to natural technological evolution is vast and important for society as a whole.
To see some specific ways consumer technology is being implemented practically, take a look at this article.