Anticipatory Computing: The Next Big Thing Is Enabling Laziness

Control4’s IPO last week and Nest’s massive success mark the beginning of mainstream, useful connected devices. In the decade to come, the most successful will be united by one common characteristic. They will anticipate our needs and make us lazier.

Living is hard work. So many things to remember, like buying milk on the way home tonight. Plenty of software has been written to help us manage our daily torrent of to dos. In fact, there is a fine app for Remembering the Milk.

But it has one flaw. I still have to remember to Remember the Milk.

Instead, I’d prefer to worry less. Wouldn’t you? I’d like the milk (not me) to remember to arrive fresh before I pour a bowl of GrapeNuts at 7am on Monday.

I’d prefer not to remember to turn the air conditioning down, lock the front door of my house, feed a pet, pause the sprinklers after rain, type in today’s workout into the treadmill or order a milk delivery.

This is anticipatory computing. When technology anticipates our needs and acts accordingly, we will have achieved that zenith of laziness. We will be liberated from the tyranny of to dos.

We’re on the precipice of large scale anticipatory computing. Google Now predicts my destination and informs me of the traffic conditions using sensors in my phone and behavior recorded in software. Nest intelligently manages climate in houses. Lockitron secures homes. These products seamlessly blend hardware sensors and software learning to create magic.

Over the next few years, many more anticipatory computing startups will solve problems for consumers and achieve huge success.

I can’t wait to forget about all those things I have to remember to do.

Published 2013-08-07 in Trends 


I am partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

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