Top 10 Tech Trends: The Device Mesh

As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. So let’s get started with the first item on the list: The Device Mesh.

What is the Device Mesh? 

Sensors are embedded in more and more of the technologies and devices we use personally and professionally every day. These sensors are collecting data on everything we do, getting more capable and integrated all the time. But until now, these devices have simply linked up to a back-end system, relaying all that data back to the company that created your device or app, provides your internet connection, or software platform – whoever is directly in a position to collect it.

The device mesh, on the other hand, is when the endpoints people use to access their information and applications expand out and talk to each other – they start interacting and working together. The networks bypass the back-end.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

Everything from your car to your GoPro is already collecting information on you, but as devices start to co-operate with each other, your everyday appliance could change the way  they interact with you, other people, communities, businesses and even governments.  It goes beyond “always-on” experiences: it would a more complete picture of your daily habits, preferences and patterns. This would mean more personalization and contextualization that follows you from device to device. It would, most likely, lead to a dramatic increase in the prevalence of wearables and augmented/virtual reality.

And, according to Gartner’s David Cearley, it will usher in a new “post-app” era, as automation becomes widespread and apps become “invisible,” – no longer specific to a particular platform.

What Gartner Says:

“In the post-mobile world the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices.”

What We Say:

It’s pretty clear that having smarter and smarter devices that are increasingly interconnected is where technology is headed – and having big data collected by our tech is pretty standard practice. Public fears over privacy and data security, which many thought might stem the tide, seem to be outweighed by the sheer convenience of having tech at our fingertips that knows what we want before we do.

What’s more, now that mobile has taken the crown from browser-based access to the web, many sites, apps and companies are getting used to the idea that their content will be viewed on someone else’s platform, paving the way for more technological integration, too.

So yes, the digital mesh is likely to play a major role in our technological future. But are we really there yet? Will 2016 be the year the device mesh widens its web? … Hmm. That’s where we’re not so certain. Sure, it makes life easier for customers. Sure, it’s a data goldmine for big companies, researchers and governments. And sure, brands will have to get used to closer collaboration and figure out how to build relationships with customers when they’re piggybacking on each other’s channels.

But until they do, what’s in it for them? What’s to be gained by consenting to go invisible?

For a lot of businesses out there, it’s hard to see why they’d risk jumping before they’re pushed. Until the digital muddle untangles its issues and can show brands how they can work towards their business goals, we’re not holding our breath for too much collaboration. What do you think? Add your comments below.

This is the first in a 10-part series on top trends for 2016. In our next post, we’ll be talking about another hot new trend: The Ambient User Experience. See you there!

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