The Internet of Senses: Your Brain Is the User Interface

By 2030, we will all experience The Internet of Senses (IoS), enabled by AI, VR, AR, 5G, and automation.
Susan Fourtané
The brain as your user interfacenopparit/iStock

The term Internet of Things (IoT) was coined by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton. The innovator and consumer sensor expert, defined the IoT back in the year 1999. He used the Internet of Things term to describe the network connecting objects in the physical world to the Internet during his work at Procter & Gamble.

Ashton, who was working in supply chain optimization, wanted to attract senior management's attention to a new exciting technology called Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID). 

Radio-frequency identification technology uses electromagnetic fields in order to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. An RFID tag consists of a tiny radio transponder; a radio receiver, and a transmitter. And Ashton was working on this field when he came up with the Internet of Things to explain his work. 

It took a while until the general public began to understand what The Internet of Things was all about and how this early trend was going to grow strong during the next couple of decades. It was only during the last few years that people began to fully understand the Internet of Things.

From that first use of the term Internet of Things, fast-forward 20 years, and humanity contemplates the birth of The Internet of Senses, one of the emerging consumer technology trends for 2021 and toward 2030.

If you missed it, here is my introductory summary of the consumer tech trends report and the Internet of Senses (IoS).

Exploring the future from an early adopter user perspective

Ericsson ConsumerLab predicts that by 2030, we will all experience The Internet of Senses (IoS). In the ninth edition of its 10 Hot Consumer Trends report, ConsumerLab found that consumers expect an array of beneficial services from connected technology interacting with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch to be a reality by 2030.

Today, we are exploring what the first trend, the brain as the user interface, is all about.  

The Internet of Senses will be enabled by technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 5G, and automation. The main drivers for the Internet of Senses include immersive entertainment and online shopping, the climate crisis and the corresponding need to minimize climate impact. 

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Your brain is the user interface

augmented reality future
By 2030, you may be able to search for routes simply by wearing AR glasses and thinking of the destination. Source: eternalcreative/iStock

Many predict that by 2030, the lines between thinking and doing will blur. Fifty-nine percent of consumers believe that we will be able to see map routes on VR glasses by simply thinking of a destination

More than 2,000 years ago, Greek philosophers thought that each human was alone and could never truly know the existence of another. This isolation is simply part of the human condition – but maybe not for much longer. 

By 2030, technology is set to respond to our thoughts, and even share them with others. Think what that will mean; think, and that will mean.

According to the 10 Hot Consumer Trends Report, Using the brain as an interface could mean the end of keyboards, mice, game controllers, and ultimately user interfaces for any digital device. The user needs to only think about the commands, and they will just happen. Smartphones could even function without touch screens.

According to the report, this opens up new device categories with entirely new interaction paradigms. Among those, the highest consumer expectations are on Augmented Reality (AR) glasses.

Six in 10 early adopters respondents are expecting that thinking show map would display a map right before their eyes. They also expect to be able to search for routes simply by thinking of the destination.

With these AR capabilities available, many other applications that are almost unimaginable today suddenly become quite straightforward. Have you ever met someone who seemingly knows you, and yet you cannot place them, or even remember their name?

This problem will be eliminated by 2030 as -- according to 54 percent of consumers -- in response to thought requests, AR glasses will show them information about people they meet, such as their name, or where they met before.

Thoughts fully accessible by technology

your thoughts accessible through technology
By 2030, you could be able to reply to short messages using only your thoughts. Sourcemetamorworks/iStock

How would you like your thoughts to become fully accessible by technology? According to the report, that would be the implication this technology would bring. In other words, it can be cool if you are playing a video game, or try to find your way in a new destination. But what happens when you want to keep your thoughts to yourself? Is that going to be possible, or will become a thing of the past?

Around half of all respondents believe that by 2030 the Ancient Greeks will be proven wrong and our minds will essentially be connected. They expect to have the ability to reply to short messages using only thoughts. Forty percent even believe they will have the ability to directly share thoughts with their friends and loved ones. But then again, what about those thoughts you do not want to share with anyone?

Consumers have shown interest in thought communication before: In the Ericsson ConsumerLab 2015 trend report, more than two-thirds believed this would be commonplace by 2020.

On thought services and thought data privacy

thought data privacy
By 2030, your thought data privacy may become a thing of the past. Source: Trifonov_Evgeniy/iStock

With this technology, it is clear that the concepts of integrity and privacy will take on new meanings.

However, people do not want advertisers to access their minds: Well above 50 percent say data will be private for any thought service concept we asked about, with seven in ten saying that thought data for locking and unlocking their front doors needs to be private. Today, advertising revenue powers many, if not all, application categories.

So, what will be the new business model in 2030? This is a subject that needs some serious thought and consideration. For now, we are going to be exploring the other nine consumer trends part of this series anticipating the next decade of technology innovation toward 2030.