Published on: March 23, 2017
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I'm standing in my kitchen, where I have an Amazon Echo, which allows me to interact with the Alexa voice-activated AI system. I just love it ... and I'm fascinated by some of the technology offerings that are emerging and that I've read about recently.
CNet had a story the other day about how pretty soon I'll be able to use the system to pre-heat a Jenn-Air WiFi-enabled wall oven. Now, I don't have a Jenn-Air WiFi-enabled wall oven, but in our next home ... which will be in Portland, Oregon, if everything breaks my way ... maybe I'll get lucky.
That'll be great. The way things are going, I'll be able to be driving in my car, or just working in my office, and just say to the Echo or Dot, warm up the oven ... and it'll happen.
The only thing better would be able to look at a Star Trek replicator, which would allow me to just say to the computer, "Earl Grey, hot," and have it appear.
An oven, of course, is just the latest idea for a connected appliance ... there have been a lot of stories recently about refrigerators, washers and dryers, and dishwashers that will be internet-enabled, capable of being operated remotely.
There's just so much interesting stuff out there.
I was reading a piece in the Washington Post the other day about how Google and Levi Strauss have come up with a $350 jean jacket that "has technology woven into its fibers and allows users to take phone calls, get directions and check the time by tapping and swiping their sleeves. That delivers information to them through their headphones so they can keep their eyes on the road without having to fiddle with a screen."
How cool is that.
The jean jacket has to be just the beginning, and I would imagine that it won't be long before such technology will be available in pretty much any article of clothing. And when I say "won't be long," I mean within months ... because the tech-enabled jean jacket is scheduled to hit the market this fall.
And this is just the beginning.
Engadget had a story the other day about how Amazon has developed a new service available to Prime members that will allow them to upload photos of the user wearing two different outfits, and instantly be informed which one works better. The perk, called "Outfit Compare," used "real stylists with experience in retail and the fashion industry to judge your clothes based on their fit, how the colors complement you and what's on trend," and then automated their opinions and preferences.
Now, in my case, such a service would be pretty much useless - the choices would be between blue Levis and gray Levis, and navy blue t-shirts and black t-shirts. But for most other people, this could be useful, and I'll be curious to see if it gets any traction.
I know there will be folks who will say that people ought to get off their fannies and go turn on the oven ... ought to be willing to stop and look at a map when looking for directions and wait until arriving at a destination before taking phone calls ... and ought to be have the good sense to look in the mirror to see if this shirt looks better than that shirt.
Maybe so. But I cannot help but be excited about this stuff, and I think I'm in the majority. The momentum in this direction just cannot be stopped.
But it isn't just about being cool. All of these technological breakthroughs hold the potential - in fact the certainty - of redefining how retailers and suppliers define relevance to the shopper.
And to steal a phrase from Bob Dylan, there is no 'shelter from the storm."
That's what is on my mind this morning, and as always, I want to know what is on your mind.
- KC's View: