Tomorrow’s 2015 Shifts
1) The Pervasive Web
GROUP The next internet
Identifying trends has always been difficult, but the rampant and accelerating pace of change in
the the current age makes it harder than ever.
Any snapshot of this moment in time is likely to be a blur of movement & immediately out of
Trends are hard to separate from fads, they are impossible to act upon, they don’t allow for
building sustainable growth, they offer a flicker of illumination, not the need for continuous
So the Tomorrow Group develops and leverages Shifts.
Shifts are multi year changes in how people behave, how technology is changing this behavior ,
they offer a more firm platforms to base decisions on.
I hope you enjoy them, shifts are living, evolving, they blend and separate, I’d love to hear any
feedback on any part of these.
Tom Goodwin - September 8th 2014.
Introducing the pervasive internet
Famously the youth of today don’t talk about online or offline, for them
there is no concept of “the internet”, they live in an always-on, connected,
real-time world where access to the internet is almost everywhere,
instantly accessed and fast.
What we forget is we can still feel it, there are edges, there is still friction.
Our world isn’t dial up internet when your housemate finally got off the
phone, but there are passwords, dropped signals, login screens,
compatibility issues, required upgrades and patches.
We still think about it, we decide to access the weather, we tell our
phones to add appointments, we select GPS routes and Adobe will
always be doing something requiring a flash update. Grrrr.
The pervasive web changes that, it’s an ambient assistive layer that just is.
Chapters of the pervasive web.
1) An Omnipresent Lattice.
2) Ambient Displays.
3) The Personal Internet.
4) The Predictive Internet.
5) The Thin’ternet.
6) Ambient Assistance & Nudges.
7) Vanishing Interfaces.
8) Frictionless Payment.
10) New Portals.
11) Evolved Physical Environment.
14) Find out more.
An Omnipresent Lattice.
The first thing to note about the new internet is that it will be everywhere. Whether 3G, Wi-Fi, or any one
of a thousand other new technologies, we will soon find that other than mountain tops and some
tunnels, you are connected. Connectivity will become something you forget exists because you have no
concept that it wouldn’t be there.
And everything will be connected, the lowering cost and size of sensors, transmitters, iBeacons will
mean more and more “things” are connected, it may be connections of no interest, like lightbulbs
sockets or fire alarms, but we’re going to be used to considering the world a cloud of rich data
We’re going to see more extensive and intrusive measurement of things, whether you’re phone is
recording the steps you take or the mood in your voice, whether it’s the car reporting it’s health or the
house sending you data on energy and water usage, this is a world of rich, abundant ever connected
I guess this is sort of big data + internet of things + the cloud and all that stuff,so this sounds like just
more of what we have, but it’s totally different.
This means there is an overriding lattice of all information ever, everywhere.
But how do we connect to it?
What happens is we will realize that all the things we own and buy, be they cars, smart watches, TV’s,
radios, phones, tablets, etc, will all be gateways or portals to this lattice of information.
We are currently in a strange time where the names we use for devices reflect a past that is on the
edge of irrelevance. We don’t increasingly don’t watch just “television” on a TV, or make phone calls
from our smartphones, and new smart watches won’t be about knowing the time. We’re on the edge
of the realization that everything is data and our past names are legacies from a past.
When we accept it’s just data, concepts like “radio signals”, TV channels, or DVD’s , they all create false
barriers to our understanding and our imagination.
When it’s just data we get to free our imagination to see these are new types of items.
• What we think of as a TV, just becomes the big screen we use to access the internet, and view
mostly video content
• What we think of as a phone, just becomes the small screen we use to access the internet, and
record data about our behavior, and use as an interface when paying for things.
• The watch becomes the device primarily to record data but also offer us thin helpful bits of
Oddly, in this clever world, most of these devices become less clever, they do less processing and
storage, they all just become viewpoints into the internet, fit for context.
Part of that context will be about personalization.
The Personal Internet
The initial excitement of this ambient internet will be that it will be custom fit for you. Content you are able
to access anywhere, will be available on all screens, stuff will be held in the ether for access by you
anytime and anyplace.
A quick scan of your finger on your phone and there will be no need to provide address or payment
details, no need for passwords, the internet will feel seamless and easy. The concept of the friction and
edges of the 2014 internet will be nostalgic in 2016.
But the true potential of the personal internet comes from a move towards the internet becoming
contextually aware and able to offer predictive help. Soon your phone will using combinations of your
location, the weather, your movements to predict your needs, but it will soon want more information to
become more helpful.
Its going to be a huge cultural shift, it won’t come easily or quickly, but we will get to a point where we
accept the inevitability that we can’t fight to retain all of our privacy.
Once we accept that we will focus on both on what safeguards we can ensure companies have to keep
it secure, but mainly we will focus on what we can gain from it, the answer is predictive services.
The Predictive Internet
You phone in particular currently records an astonishing amount of data, things we don’t think about like our
moods through our voice, our planned activity through our calendar, our search behavior, where we are, all
of our friends data, the list is endless.
Future sensors like smartwatches will likely record activity levels, heartbeats, perhaps even blood metrics
and other personal indicators.
When you bring this data together and combine with external factors like the current weather in your area,
stock market performance, live public transport data, you have an incredible amount of material to process
to make predictions about required behavior.
There is one final piece of the jigsaw missing, correlating behavior on mobile and on the rest of the non
mobile web, so far the web has cookies, mobiles do not.
Apple in particular using Touch ID and synchronizing this with Apple Safari browsing data, if we ever
allowed it, would allow a complete picture of our intentions and behavior. In fact ( writing this before the
iPhone 6 launch) Apple creates a payment system, Apple will have complete visibility on all personal data
including purchase data AND the ability to make payments directly.
This is the hyper personal internet, curated, automated, and bespoke to our needs. Everything from the
content we may want to see, to the offers retailers want to send us, to advertising.
When your phone and laptops and all other entry points to the internet know everything about you, your
Not only is it seamless and easy, but it’s thinner.
It’s a weird way to look at it, but the desktop internet is deep. You view it in a browser, go into articles,
click on links, these currently take you further and further “down into” the internet. You end up in ever
smaller, deeper parts of the web, each become more specific to your interests, but less expansive. To
move from area to area you have to return up a level or more.
The current mobile web is thinner, you select a personal “portal” to the internet ( which is what an app is)
and this becomes a personal facade onto which your specific personal data is pulled up to and
projected onto. It may be your flight information, the weather in you area, it’s the perfect combination of
specific to your needs, but shallow. But the killer problem is that each app is not yet connected.
The pervasive web, it’s personal nature and advances like Applinks will mean that apps become a
connected web, a web of apps, so your browsing will allow shallow exploration, but moving from
personal experience to other personal experiences. What sets out as finding a film to watch becomes
booking tickets, becomes sharing tickets with friends, becomes finding a place to eat, becomes
booking a spot becomes using a map to get there. It’s a constantly personal, constantly in app
But some apps can be even thinner.
Ambient Assistance & Nudges
The vast personal data layer has interesting implications for the most personal and mobile devices, the
smartwatch and the mobile phone ( such dumb names!)
These devices have pretty small screens, but are highly mobile devices, they are unique in being at the
interface between “everywhere we go in the real world”, all our most personal data, the world of physical
commerce and decisions in that world, and the entire world of the internet and eCommerce.
That is a pretty unique place to be in history, at the intersection of everything.
I see the internet being even thinner on these devices, a world where key contextual messages are
suggested to you based on predictions about your behavior. Adverts and information will exist in the
notification layer, and / or as “cards”.
For example it’s started to rain and you’re running late for a meeting, you may receive a notification
message on your phone saying “press here to book an Uber” and “it will arrive in 5 mins”. You may be
walking up to your house and a “card” on your watch allows you to open the house with one tap of the
screen. Once inside, the suggested command is to turn on lights.
The key here is that these are not automated, we are still in control, but our devices are constantly
reducing cognitive burden by thinking of a billion things we’re not;checking conditions and offering
constant ways to beat traffic, dodge the rain, get a special offer instore etc.
But are there other interfaces?
We will see pretty big developments with how we interact with these devices.
It’s clear that we need a bit more subtlety to how we approach interfaces, Google, like so many tech
companies hasn’t focused on how people are people. We need to keep eye contact, remove barriers,
feel connected to the real world first. But improvements in how we control devices needs to come.
Anyone who has ever tried to search for a movie on Netflix on a TV via typing can see the importance of
better interfaces, soon we will see a variety of new input mechanisms that make interacting with devices
far more intuitive.
Voice control could be of huge potential, innovations like bluetooth earbuds combined with Siri like
personal assistant on our smart phones, or a voice type mechanism in our TV remote control, we will
soon become used to using our voice to control. It’s hard to see how culture will respond to earbuds
given how people currently feel with bluetooth headsets.
Hand movements - Whether it’s a leap motion sensor, a myo armband or gesture control via a motion
sensor above screens, we’ll find an array of ways to make us feel more immersed in the internet and
more aligned via our hand movements.
There are even more creepy potential solutions, some involving eye movement tracking to allow controls
and even more further ahead, plenty of mechanisms to use our thoughts alone as guidance for
navigation. This is become even more immersive and frictionless, what about other barriers between the
physical and real world. Payments.
The move towards digital currency has been gradual and unsteady, primarily because of the incredible
stakeholders and vast amounts of money at stake. Combine that with regulation, security, monetary policy
and you’ve an industry that’s ripe for disruption,complacent but hard to enter. Much like cable TV.
I don’t know enough to comment on the merits of bitcoin vs electronic currencies, vs contactless, but I can
state as a theoretical opinion that since money is merely data, spending money is ripe for re:imagining from
scratch. Our devices are designed to bridge the digital and physical world, they have this covered.
In fact, in the pervasive internet, everything becomes digital,our money, our flight tickets, our bus pass, our
passports, our money off coupons. So whatever we do remains in the digital domain can become information
that lives within our smartphones and smartwatches. The pervasive internet will allow us to carry everything
we need to get into any gig, on any bus, pay for stuff, and receive money off vouchers. It could allow for ultra
quick ticketing, and ultra secure if Touch ID or equivalent was used. In theory even passports or health
records would be held in the cloud and accessed securely.
Opening our mind to new thinking in money is fun, payments could be sent between people immediately and
for free, currency exchange rates could be perfectly efficient,money off vouchers could be attributed to
specific people, they could change value when spread to others, they could be time specific, sent our by
iBeacon as you walked past.
We could track our expenditure with more precision, all purchases would be digital, receipts no longer printed
but maintained on an app. It also helps micro-payments.
One of the things thats causing a mess in the world is that we can’t pay for stuff quickly and cheaply
online for small things. If Payments are considered a part of the pervasive web and Apple in particular
decide to support this technique, a lot of things will change.
The ad funded media that rewards cheap content that generates clicks will die, instead quality content
can be made, and the cost per read can reflect the audience needs. This means a world of better
It could save our eyes. No longer a world of intrusive ads and the constant appearance of click bait
and viral stories, we may see a more premium interface that allows us to focus.
No more paywalls, nothing to get in the way of our content.
Better content support. No more kick starters for films, merely a suggested tip and micro payments
could allow all culture to be supported in a more democratic and fair way.
One site in particular could own this world.Twitter.
Generally in life we need to access the internet for three reasons.
1) To connect people.
2) To discover things around us.
3) To discover and see content.
In theory the internet of the future could be based on three different modes, each could become the sites
and apps that own the web. I won’t go into much detail here because this is commercially sensitive.
1) To contact people.
OTT apps, probably just on in particular, or Facebook if it wakes up, could be the glue between all contact
between people. Whether it’s texting, voice, email, photos, the method of transmission will be of no
interest, but the data and ad opportunities are decent. A mode of using the phone will be the “people”
entry point, OTT will be used for corporate use,to allow people to complain at customer service, to rebook
flights, to arrange appointments. It could be used to order pizza. But the primary mode is connecting
2) To discover things around us.
Google maps or equivalent could become the way we make decisions and explore the world around us.
You want a movie, food, an event, a bus, a flight, a coffee, our first way to explore maybe by map.
This brings vast opportunities for advertising. Using Webapps, you may then move from this to other apps
to book, send to friends, ask for reviews, but maps themselves could be that entry point and the owner of
3) To discover and see content.
Twitter is the home page for the web, but Facebook, Google Play and others fight.
Soon we’ll see news, content, video, music, games wrapped into one layer that offers us everything in the
world and charges us through micro payments for the priveledge.
NOTE: My point is not three separate webs. It’s one web with three portals, they all join up, but owning the
gateway means you own the data, advertising and micropayment revenue.
Evolved Physical Environment
So what happens at the interface between real and digital? What are the implications for a world
where so much seems to be removed from what is around us?
There is the potential for the real world to become more digital, where empty stores are turned into
store fronts for the virtual world. But also the opposite, where physical stores pull through personal
recommendations from the internet. Their shop windows become large screens for personal
shopping, configurations for outfits and places to buy for delivery later.
This is total retail, or omnichannel retail, where what is an online or offline retailer blends. The two
become layers that are hard to separate out.
API’s become a powerful force in retail, via App linking or other ways to pull through frames, your
phone, desktop and tablet become powerful store fronts in the context of other sites an apps. A hot
day may bring through the chance to buy summer clothing, but from within a frame in the weather
site. API”s are to mobile, what Web 2.0 was to the first internet.
Infrastructure around us will start to draw upon the internet, phones may become room keys in
hotels, railway stations will soon offer vast car clubs ( like Zipcar) to allow integrated personal
transport, but with one way journeys possible.
New residential units may include monthly allowances of car time. Stations may include areas to pick
up delivered goods. Where architecture, business and the pervasive web meet, amazing things
This new internet raises many questions, a select few…..
What does advertising become?
How do retailers operate?
How do service brands respond?
What new markets does this open?
What industries does this threaten?
What does this mean for other trends?
What does this mean for these new devices?
What does loyalty look like in this new era?
What does media become?
So you’ve got this much for free, it’s pretty profound and asks many more questions.
It’s the tip of the iceberg, you will note that examples and demonstrations are lacking in particular.
If you want a presentation and explanation.
If you want to discuss these in detail.
If you want to ideate around what new opportunities this provides, what threats will materialize,.
Please contact me.
The Tomorrow Group is based New York and London, but we have planes and phones in 2014.
While a lot of effort has gone into this document, no predictions are ever perfect and few are
intended to be.
The value of this document isn’t in certainty, it’s about exploration.
This document is about asking questions, entertaining scenarios, stress testing ideas.
But, above all else it’s about triggering creativity, what new opportunities does this way of thinking
create? how does this frame of reference inspire?