The Rise of Anticipatory Services

If IT industry gadfly and blogger Robert Scoble is right, the world we live in is about to become a very different place once all the services that take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) rapidly find mainstream adoption.

Speaking at the MuleSoft Connect 2014 conference today, Scoble says massive numbers of “anticipatory services” are coming to market in a way that will change almost every aspect of the customer experience.

Taking advantage of everything from the advent of low-cost sensors, to real-time analytics running on in-memory databases in the cloud, these services herald a new wave of contextual computing that will automatically discover patterns of behavior, Scoble proclaims. Once discovered, the services will then make suggestions about how to improve the experiences associated with those patterns. Those patterns will encompass everything from going to church to the route a person regularly takes to go to school or work.

In his role as start-up liaison officer for Rackspace, Scoble says he has already seen how the connected car of the future will make use of APIs to determine not only how many people are in the car, but also where they are actually sitting. Based on the age of passengers the connected car will then make recommendations for everything, including what music to play and where to stop for lunch. More importantly, those connected cars will be able to see over the horizon to warn drivers about potentially hazardous driving conditions.

Scoble says medicines delivered either orally or via a needle will also come equipped with sensors that not only track how that drug interacts with your system, but also identify other potential diseases long before symptoms manifest.

In fact, Scoble notes that mobile computing applications such as Facebook Moves can already identify when a person is walking, running, biking or driving in a car simply by tracking the sensors in a person’s mobile phone.

What all these applications have in common is that to one degree or another they are taking advantage of APIs to access location-based services and set up “geo-fences” that enable them to track where and what individuals are doing. The degree to which individuals will opt into the services will vary. However, Scoble says that for all intents and purposes, the notion of privacy is already essentially obsolete.

For example, Apple is already taking advantage of drones to keep track of construction projects. Scoble says the drones make use of surveillance cameras to identify every truck and person that comes in and out of the construction site. The goal is to use that data to reduce any errors that would increase the cost of the construction project.

Because of both the obvious business benefits and the degree to which services can be personalized, Scoble is betting that more people will both explicitly and tacitly opt into a new world of continuous surveillance. Of course, most of these services will only work in urban areas, which is one reason that Scoble says we’ll see more people flocking to cities to take advantage of all the benefits a new “urbanist” lifestyle has to offer.

Be sure to read the next APIcon article: APIcon: 5 Lessons on How to Transform Businesses and Industries Into Platforms