The Second Digital Decade: 3 Tech Trends That Will Re-invent Training

The Second Digital Decade: 3 Tech Trends That Will Re-invent Training


The consumerization of learning is being driven by the technology in the hands of consumers. At the 2016 Consumer Technology Show (formerly CES), Dr. Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of CTA, presented the state of the consumer technology industry and the trends to watch.

The future is about digits and data. Today, 88 percent of consumers have a computer in the home. There are 330 million cellphone subscribers in the U.S.A. We are now entering the “Second Digital Decade” focused on ambient sensing and aggregated learning. We are moving to a focus on meaningful data versus the possibilities. Today, 51 percent of technology buys are in cellphones, televisions and personal computers. Next year, these categories will account for less than 50 percent due to growth of the emerging categories. This is documented by the size of Eureka Park, the Innovation Center of CTS ’16, which grew from 29 exhibitors to 500 in 2016.

The Second Digital Decade is driven by three key trends.


The conversion of analog data to digital data allows us to count steps, calories, etc., and place it within context. For example, WeMo sensors are placed in the diapers of newborn infants in hospitals to monitor infant temperature, movement and breathing rates linked via Bluetooth via their onesies garments. Smartphones are now hub devices with microphones for monitoring a home’s security. A Whirlpool dishwasher, linked via a nest thermostat, can be turned on and off. We are past the era of siloed apps and now entering the era of intelligent systems: the interaction of networked devices.

This is all possible due to the lower cost of sensing technology. It once cost $7 per axis per motion; now it is less than 50 cents. Imagine hosting garments with biosensing capabilities for railroad engineers that will alert when fatigue sets in. Or alcohol toxicity levels of security personnel, truck drivers, health-care workers or peace officers.

The sensing of emotional responses is also possible via video facial reactions and bio-sensing. We see some of this having positive effects on HR video recruiting. Video facial reactions can measure emotional reactions to real-time interviewing, and they can even estimate age. Marketers are particularly interested, as biosensing allows them to collect emotional response to content, ads, polls, etc. and change triggers based upon interactions. Imagine presenting training content and — via facial scanning — knowing what resonates with learners, and what does not in real time.


Most of us experience aggregated learning when we use Netflix. It consists of predictive and customized experiences based upon our personal actions. By giving more access to our environments, sensors can record time of day, biorhythms, moods, etc., and constantly collect information — present or absent. An example of aggregated learning is the word error rate from automation, which has dropped to 5 percent, accelerating our voice-to-text improvement over the last decade. Soon, we will voice-activate many text-based commands.

We are changing our interactions as well. Systems are now sharing information across devices. Our cellphones share information with the entire system, like meeting calendars across devices, CRM, LMS, etc. Another system-sharing example includes driverless cars, whereby the car ahead of you can report road conditions to other vehicles on the road, altering course automatically and without the driver’s intervention. No more skidding off the road from black ice or rear-ending vehicles ahead of you from sudden stops. GM’s recent investment in Lyft is as much about the technology as passenger fares. By 2020, self-driving cars will number 1 million. And by 2025, half of all cars will be autonomous. Imagine the many repetitive actions trainers take in preparation of a new hire and how shared intelligent systems could provide literal on-the-job training on talent’s first day of employment.


Have you used Google Cardboard yet? You will never shop for cruises the same way again. With virtual reality (VR), we can walk through the ship before buying a cabin or itinerary. It is the marketers’ next advertising and entertainment platform. More than 1 million Cardboard units have been sold. Meanwhile, Oculus pre-order was launched in January and sold out within hours. Other vendors like HTC and Sony are featuring eyewear, games and 360-degree cameras for use in virtual reality. Today, companies like WEVR and Samsung host and share VR content and public channels. VR is moving away from animation into reality with the 360-camera. Think GoPro 360 degrees in the learning environment. The possibilities and experiences are endless.

Wearables, drones and 3-D printers round out the nascent technology categories. Wearables were just under a $5 billion industry in 2015. Think sensing for clothing. Wearables are a big hit in the fitness and health industries, where how one exercises or completes a particular task can be determined to reach target or not. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer attributes Stryker, a VR training device, for improvement of his footwork and throwing motion. Industrial applications for safety training are top-of-mind for wearable technology.

Drones will reach 2.9 million units sold in 2016. Dragonfy and Fleye are brands in fight. Applications include land surveying, security, and intelligent energy utilization. Use cases are expanding daily. Amazon and Facebook are evaluating drones for home delivery alternatives.

3-D printers are the ultimate personalization devices. Schools for K-12 were early users and are expected to reach 152 million units sold, up 38 percent from 2015. 4K video cameras, displays and content streaming are up 400 percent to 12 million units. As high-quality content streaming is delivered to the masses, the cost for enterprise learning drops. 4K viewing offers “better-than-being-there” visual experiences.

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