Why does technology still have the power to amaze us? We shouldn’t really be shocked anymore by what’s possible and what’s available, should we?
A quick look at how the richest and most powerful men in the world of technology are using their vast fortunes, shows the enormity of their vision and their ambition.
In a nod to Richard Branson’s publicity stunts for his Virgin brand in the nineties, Elon Musk has been testing his own rocket and using it to put his Tesla electric car into orbit.
A few years ago, we got the first glimpse of Sergey Brin’s Google glasses and wondered who would be seen dead out and about in those? Fast forward a few years and you’ll find General Electric’s engineers wearing augmented reality glasses to assist them in their efforts to service and repair GE’s complex machinery in the field, thousands of miles away from their base, but yet able to instantly access the information they need and provide on-the-spot visuals to their colleagues – in real time.
Amazon and Google are both consolidating their grip on our lives – look at the way Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home are creeping into our households. They are making a none-too subtle play to become completely embedded in our everyday existence. We don’t need to head to the laptop or grab the tablet, we just need to ask the box in the room.
Perhaps what has been most surprising is that, with all the massive technological advances of the last few years, there hasn’t been too much to report at a consumer-level in the equestrian world.
However, there were a few tech gadgets on show at BETA this year that demonstrated that the technological revolution might finally be drip-feeding through to the everyday horse owner.
We found a HD video camera that attaches to any riding helmet, which weighs about an ounce, Estride brought along their fitness tracker and Harmony saddle mat. In addition, there is Equi-Motion which has opened the door on horse and rider biomechanics for everyone.
However, looking at everything that is happening in the wider world, you can’t help but think there’s so much more to come for the horse owner and rider and when it does come, it will change both the equestrian world and hence the equestrian trade world forever – and in ways that we might struggle to comprehend right now.
Mention Artificial Intelligence and there is a panicky thought in all of us, about the “Rise of the Machines” and what this might mean for the future of the human race. But very large corporations have staked huge R&D budgets on Artificial Intelligence and very soon AI will come to describe something very different than when currently used in the equestrian and farming worlds.
Governments and car manufacturers, including Tesla are already working together on autonomously driven vehicles and working out how legislation and transport networks will have to be shaped to accommodate them. So it doesn’t take a Nostradamus to see what that will mean for horse transportation in the next decade.
But it’s not just the most obvious scenarios, where AI is starting to operate, a recent report by Accenture, contains details of how organisations are using AI in some surprising areas.
In the healthcare sector, at the Icahn School of medicine in the U.S. they have developed Deep Patient, an AI system, which has analysed over 700,000 health records and learned how to predict risk factors for 78 diseases. Deep Patient is now being used by doctors as part of their diagnoses. If this can be achieved for humans, it won’t be long before one of the pharmaceutical giants realises that this could be a great way to promote the use of their products and revolutionise the veterinary sector.
The creative industries won’t be immune either, Accenture also has examples of AI being used in the creative arena, where AI-based solutions are already helping fashion stylists at Stitch Fix curate customers’ outfits. Effectively, a computer is selecting the colours and materials that work best together for us to wear. It’s not much of a stretch to see how that technology could easily be used to design and manufacture equestrian attire.
As a planet, we are on the cusp of a new digital age that will change our lives, job roles and businesses immeasurably. For us mere mortals without the vast personal wealth, to set the agenda and to drive through the innovation, it feels like a waiting game, but when the mist clears and the opportunities begin to present themselves, it will be an extremely exciting time to be a business-owner.