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Coming: Sensors and Pixels Everywhere

Businesses and customers will share these ears and eyes.

By Linda Rosencrance
May 23, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Anatole Gershman
Title:
Global director of research
Company: Accenture Technology Laboratories, the Chicago-based technology research and development unit of Accenture Ltd.

Anatole Gershman, global director of research at Accenture Technology Laboratories
Anatole Gershman, global director of research at Accenture Technology Laboratories
Gershman spoke recently with Computerworld about Accenture's vision for the future of technology, which includes interactive grocery carts and the ability for your wardrobe to communicate with stores.
What are the three main trends that will be driving business applications over the next three to five years? If you look three to five years out, the underlying technology trends that ... will continue to drive innovation are:
1. The rise of intelligent sensor networks.
2. The rise of scalable intelligence techniques -- all the techniques that can analyze the data that is coming from all the sensors and could lead to useful business insight.
3. The rise of technology that enables you to be and act "there" from a distance and cope with lots of information, and it will be driven by pixels. We're going to have very inexpensive pixels everywhere -- we see it in cell phones.
Those are technologies that enable us to sense -- intelligent sensor networks; to think -- technologies that enable our systems to think, which is scalable intelligence; and technologies that enable us to act on all this intelligence.
The Online Wardrobe uses sensors, tagging and tracking technologies to keep track of the clothing you already own and helps you buy coordinating items, either online or in physical stores.
The Online Wardrobe uses sensors, tagging and tracking technologies to keep track of the clothing you already own and helps you buy coordinating items, either online or in physical stores.
What are the business applications of these trends? Our vision of the business implications of these trends is what we call Reality Online -- a connection between the physical world and the world that is reflected in our systems, so now technology will enable us to connect to physical realities and see them in real time, and for them to be reflected in our systems in real time so we can act on them in real time. I think Reality Online is going to revolutionize relationships between customers and enterprises.

How will Reality Online do that? Let's take an example of shopping for groceries. Supermarkets already collect a lot of information about their customers, using loyalty cards and checkout information, but they don't do much with that information today. And the customers don't get much benefit from this information.
Although some supermarkets are already experimenting with smart shopping carts, they don't do much with them except to show customers some advertising and, in some stores, customers can use those carts as self-checkouts. A smart shopping cart is a cart with a little screen attached to it and


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