A case study on "smart" technology

A case study on "smart" technology
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We live in the information age - a time where information is readily available at the tip of our fingers.

As our hunger for information grows, companies built more and more devices and constantly improving their capabilities to meet our needs.

We are always looking for that perfect all-in-one device that is capable of everything, but as that does not exist yet, we can only buy many devices to meet our various needs.

This solution is not only inefficient, but we consumers also find it confusing and tiresome to buy and use all the various products.

But as of late, innovation in the industry is slowly shifting from just simply improving the capabilities of a single device to making technology "smart".

This shift was after the acceptance of the fact that the average man will own more than one internet-connected device. Accepting that limitation allowed the industry to move forward from working on an impossible goal to a new huge area of possibilities.

Making technology "smart" revolves around 2 aspects - connectivity and communication between the devices we use and the development of such technologies to make them more intuitive to our natural movements.

I am really intrigued at this next stage of the information age - where exactly are we at and where we are headed in terms of a more sci-fi future.

*LG had graciously given me all the information of their products, so I will be use them for the purposes of this case study.

Firstly let's take a look at the first aspect of "smart" technology - connectivity and communication between our devices.

"Smart" Interconnectivity of Devices


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You may ask why this aspect is important for a device to be "smart". The reason is simple - unlimited possibilities.

There may never be such a thing as a device that can do it all, but with interconnectivity, a device that can connect WITH other devices of various capabilities can also provide that same benefit. This is also known as the "Internet of Things".

One example is Apple and its ecosystem, but that is a special case, they are currently the only company which has absolute control over every aspect of the user experience, both hardware and software.

In the case of LG, they have moved a step further. Their innovation has gone beyond gadgets to your home appliances.

Their interconnectivity model is simple and one that is being used by many others.

The idea is that your phone is the ultimate universal remote control, an extension of your body that communicates with other devices and appliances. And below you will see the LG's interconnected ecosystem.

LG "Smart" TV


With the LG TV Remote 2013 Smartphone App (available on Android and iOS), your smartphone (of any brand) will be able to control your TV over a Wi-Fi network.

With that capability, you will be able to maximise the potential of a smart TV. You will be able to search for videos on YouTube or your LG Smart TV library on your phone and the search results will show up on the TV.

This unified search system also extends to other services such as LG Smart World, Social Centre, LG Cloud, and more. You can also turn your phone or tablet into a second screen experience with LG Smart Share.

Ultimately, your LG smart TV will into a command centre, with your phone being the only device you need to interact with. Such capabilities may improve greatly next year at CES 2014, when LG is set to debut a new TV interface based on the webOS system and potentially shake up the smart TV landscape.

LG "Smart" Sound Systems


Photo Credit: LG

Photo Credit: LG

Think you got swag when you can turn on your lights by clapping your hands? Try entering your room and in an instant, blast music from your phone and get that party on.

Much like the LG Smart TV, LG will show off a new smart sound system next year at CES 2014. Through a smartphone app, you will be able to simply walk in to your room and stream music at will.

The design of the smart sound systems also makes it stylish and subtle, thus great for both the party thrower and the quiet music lover inside all of us.

LG "Smart" Home Appliances


Photo Credit: LG

Photo Credit: LG

Known as Smart ThinQ appliances, LG allows you to control a slew of home appliances with the LG Smart ThinQ phone apps, thus also allowing you to using your own choice of phone (as long as it is capable of supporting the application).

Appliances currently compatible with this include LG refrigerator, oven, washing machine and dryer. (Click link for more information)

Intuitive to natural movements


This is an aspect of making technology "smart" because interaction with technology is as important as the capability of interconnectivity of technology.

As your smartphone slowly becomes your extension to your other devices, your smartphone itself is also slowly integrating itself to your hand and your body's natural movement.

In the case of LG, they had been adventurous to say the least. In their quest for even greater integration between yourself and your phone, LG has experimented in unique ways.

Rear Keys


Photo Credit: LG

Photo Credit: LG

Take the LG G2 and G Flex, one feature that is truly unique is the buttons on the back, with their reasoning being that we use our index finger the most for interacting with things, and that this button positioning complements that.

I had used the LG G2 before, and it will feel comfortable after the short learning curve, and it does what it promises, such as making selfies a comfortable experience.

Curved Form Factor


Photo Credit: LG

Photo Credit: LG

LG has also introduced the world's first curved phone on the vertical axis. This brings about several benefits and experiences not found on the normal brick form factor that is common with smartphone.

A curved phone provides a more comfortable grip due to its ergonomic form factor and also welcomes the sliding of your finger as you interact with your phone's touch screen.

The curve also makes the sound and voice quality of calls better due to it curving into your face.

User Interface


Photo Credit: LG

Photo Credit: LG

Lastly, I cannot go on without mentioning the software user interface, which is paramount to the entire user experience.

As smartphone software continue to develop, small details such as icons, and on-screen gestures have improved greatly to make them feel as natural as possible.

We actually came a longer way than we'd appreciate. Unlike typing on a keyboard or pressing on a button, interacting with a touch screen hardly has any form of tactile feedback other than the small vibration after a press of a button that acts as an illusion.

Since then, user interfaces has generally become more efficient with the need of fewer presses and the preference of hand and motion gestures, with the up coming voice command slowly picking up the slack.

One example is the LG G Flex "Answer Me" function which lowers the ringtone and answers the call when the phone detects that it is being raised to the user's ear. Now that's what I call "smart".

Conclusion


Photo Credit: LG

Photo Credit: LG

Let me just say that all of these advances as stated above were introduced in 2013 (with the exception of the LG Sound System).

And in that year, we have already entered a future where by with a device (smartphone) that in continuously integrating with our life. One game changing factor that I feel is most powerful is the LG Smart ThinQ appliances.

Unlike other companies which can easily and already have the capability of connecting their branded phones to other tech devices, few companies have been able to translate that interconnectivity to home appliances, and to such a rich and full extent.

With already a solid line-up that is difficult to match, LG has already carved out a solid front that will impact the purchasing decision of many in the years to come as people begin to refresh their home appliances.

While LG has opened up their home appliances to be connected with phones of other brands through apps, it is reasonable to expect those buying in to the LG home ecosystem to ultimately be swayed to use an LG smartphone.

I see 2013 simply as an introduction to the idea that the all-in-one device that can do everything is not like what we imagined. It is not a single device capable of DOING everything, but a single device is able to extend itself and communicate WITH everything.

With each passing year, the smartphone etches itself deeper into our lives as the centre of an invisible web of connections that we ultimately control.

I quote Scott Jung, Managing Director of LG Electronic Singapore who said that "the modern and hectic lifestyle has made us more reliant on electronic devices, hence LG designed mobile communication products that will not only satisfy customer's needs while on the move but also the interconnectivity within the gadget eco-system."

2014 will see more devices and appliances with capabilities that interconnect with others, and as this is still a fresh landscape of untouched potential, the possibilities are exciting.

And in the case of LG, it is truly leading the way.