This time it’s personalized: a new era in computing

We are moving faster than ever from the original promise of personal computing – a computer for every person, a computer on every desk – to the era of personalized computing.

If you were around when the first PCs appeared you’d remember how we marveled that devices which previously filled rooms now sat on our desk. Much of the past 30 years saw evolutions of that original concept, but the revolutions remained few.

But then revolution kicked in. Ten years ago we started to see the convergence of smart phones and laptops. New software in the form of apps transformed what we could do, and transformed our expectations of what technology should do.

We are now in an era in which the way technology interacts with itself and us as humans is transforming how we touch, choose and use technology.

Form factors exploded, with Lenovo’s Yoga multimode laptops being just one example of how computing became more personalized. We introduced that product in 2012, a first in the convertible category, as a result of listening to our customers who were asking for a device with greater flexibility and mobility.

Workplaces and schools introduced bring-your-own-device (BYOD) options which accelerated the notion of choosing what was right for you – based on everything from price to support, form factor, size, power, battery life, operating system, processor speed and more. Compare this to the dawn of the PC age, when your options basically amounted to a choice between two brands and two price points.

Welcome to the era of personalized computing

We are now in an era in which the way technology interacts with itself and us as humans is transforming how we touch, choose and use technology.

This is a captivating shift because it brings us a step closer to a long-imagined ideal: computing that’s all around us – helpful, omnipresent and dependably integrated with our everyday lives. I use the term ‘personalized computing’ in the sense that technology is moving beyond traditional form factors and adapting to what suits the individual’s lifestyle. It’s morphing into different devices to suit different uses. Laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktops are increasingly indistinguishable.

Our digital wardrobes now adapt to and define our lifestyles. No two wardrobes are similar. We expect how we interact with technology to reflect our personal taste – from our flashy smartphones, flamboyant headphones and fitness trackers to our car user interfaces, TVs and the ways we interact with smart home devices like the Amazon Echo and Lenovo Smart Assistant (pictured below).

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That’s what I mean by personalized computing being all around us. I can talk to my smart home device and ask my TV to play my next House of Cards episode or my favorite U2 song on YouTube. Voice is a big part of this shift to personalized. We’re more comfortable using our voices – we talk to our phones, smart assistants and other devices with hardly a second thought. Voice activation technologies will continue to grow and impact the market – watch this space.

That’s what I mean by personalized computing being all around us. I can talk to my smart home device and ask my TV to play my next House of Cards episode or my favorite U2 song on YouTube.

The impact of VR, AR and AI technologies

With technology now lighter, more powerful, and easier to hold than ever, we’re already seeing implications for personalized computing via developments in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). VR will remain somewhat niche in gaming over the next three or so years before going mainstream, though analysts are tipping the VR market to outgrow wearables this year into a $4 billion global market.

Customers have told us the two biggest barriers to mainstream VR adoption is its high cost to entry and lack of VR content. We’ve responded to this by partnering with Beyond Media to launch Lenovo Entertainment Hub, giving people access to movies, TV shows and game codes, with the benefit of VR upscaling on our Legion gaming PCs. Those following CES announcements will also know we’ve unveiled a VR headset prototype, pictured below. The Lenovo VR headset will officially launch later this year.

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While there are some non-gaming VR developments underway in the market (such as these business training opportunities), I expect to see greater development for business applications in the AR space. This report from Goldman Sachs examines the next decade’s potential for a multi-billion dollar industry, with retail, real estate, engineering and healthcare being ripe for AR disruption. But in my opinion, you’ll be hard pressed to find any industry unaffected by AR over the coming decade.

Elsewhere, MIT Sloan Management Review cites new AI initiatives from 50 major corporations such as Bloomberg, Disney, Ford Motors, and General Electric. As many as 88% of executives from these businesses expect to invest in AI and machine-learning solutions over the coming decade. Sixty-eight percent have already made a start. At Lenovo, we’re exploring how machine learning can optimize our own internal systems and processes, specifically with regard to AI support bots on our website forums.

 

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However, the next phase of personalized computing will likely be how devices deliver on meeting the needs of our imaginations and experiences ahead of advancing our organizational efficiencies.

What we have learned is that one size no longer fits all. People expect to have many different options for devices, but now also seek different options for interacting with technology across the board. New applications and experiences driven by VR, AR, and AI will only enhance this effect.

It’s no longer about the personal computer: It’s about personalized computing, and the shift is profound.

Authored By: Dilip Bhatia

dilip-bhatia-vice-president-worldwide-marketing-and-design-pc-group-lenovo1-resiseHe is the Vice President, Global Marketing,

User & Customer Experience, PC & Smart Devices, Lenovo.

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