- Eva Skoglund
- March 30, 2021 | 6 min
The shift-to-the-home macro trend that's accelerating digital transformation
Earlier this year, I participated in the all-digital CES 2021from my usual spot in the corner of the living room. The rest of my family were either working or attending school in various other rooms around our home. As I watched the keynotes and presentations, a theme started to emerge — people were talking about technology and products related to doing things remotely. Be it for work, school, or a visit to the doctor, we’ve shifted from on-site and face-to-face to online and at-a-distance. And then it dawned on me:
We are right in the middle of a new macro trend: the shift-to-the-home. What we used to do in other places — getting care in clinics, being educated in schools, working in offices, all of that is now moving into our homes on a much bigger scale than before.
How many of you have had thoughts reflecting that your home suddenly needs to host much more activity or cater for family members being present at all times? I know I certainly have.
The shift-to-the-home has, in a way, been ongoing for many years, but what’s happening now is that because of the pandemic, the effect is dramatic — suddenly we are all “stuck in our homes” quite literally. And even after the pandemic, I believe our homes will be the base for much more of our daily activities and we will see society adapt. For example, when it comes to work, Harvard Business Review talks about our work-from-anywhere future (WFA) and streaming provider Spotify talks about work isn’t somewhere you go, it’s something you do and they say that from now on, their employees can enjoy WFA. When it comes to getting care, if you aren’t already acquainted with the term telemedicine, take a look at how the Medical Futurist talks about how to get used to it: remote care is the new norm. I would say it’s unlikely we’ll revert entirely to the way things were before the pandemic. We are getting used to doing things from home, and while long term, being at home all the time can be dull, inefficient, and even difficult, sometimes it can more convenient.
As we deepen the shift-to-the-home, technology is moving into our homes at a different level and scale than before. Many of the CES-2021 talks reflected both new types of technology and various new ways of applying already existing technology. Some of the examples related to healthcare included remote diagnostic technology, at-home-care tools, and digital therapeutics and treatments (in some cases called software-as-medicine). In the area of education, digital training and learning tools were showcased, as well as specialized education software. And in more general terms, already emerging voice interactive devices (like Amazon Alexa) were being discussed in the light of servicing daily life at home in a more profound way than before.
A typical virtual meeting
A video meeting is at least better than a phone call or email, because some of the communication aspects are present, but it is still pretty far away from a physical meeting. What if a virtual meeting could mean something entirely different? If you have ever seen the Star Wars movies, Episode 1 – 3, you may remember the Jedi Council and how a virtual replica of those not able to attend in person (or should I say “in creature” 🙂) appear as a hologram sitting beside the Jedi Knights who are present. Talk about a future vision of a virtual meeting!
Holograms in a movie like Star Wars is one thing, but is it realistic in the home? How can virtual meetings be improved to better relay some of those human-to-human communication aspects? I believe that we, as human beings, will put more demands on technology, but we will also increase our acceptance of digital transformation. At Tobii, we work with attention computing and eye tracking technology, which provide part of the solution. Eye tracking captures the smallest eye movements and translates them into a digital stream of data metrics. Because eye movements not only reflect our vision capabilities, but also focus, attention, and in some cases intentions, eye movement data can be used to create amazing things.
The shift-to-the-home macro trend is accelerating the need for tools and technology where eye tracking can disrupt existing assumptions, and at the same time create significant value for humans.
Here are a couple of examples of what eye tracking can do, and how it contributes to shift-to-the-home technologies:
- Telehealth: a device (including a regular laptop) equipped with eye tracking can measure a person’s eye movements which can, for example, be used to assess things like vision capabilities, brain health, cognitive load, and attention. Because of the small form factor of eye tracking technology, it’s a great fit for telehealth devices and services as it can be used in the home or in a situation where you want to offer mobile care services – be it assessment, follow-up or training and treatment.
- Virtual communication: humans communicate with voice, eyes, and body language. When we meet virtually, part our communication nuances get lost. Technologies like eye tracking can help bring back some of those aspects. For example, it’s possible to build solutions for creating eye contact in virtual meetings or enhancing VR avatars with eye contact, making them more realistic and appealing.
- Remote collaboration and learning: Any type of distance-collaboration or remote instruction can be improved with eye tracking because it provides a visual clue about what the other person is looking at. It removes the need to ask questions like “are you looking at the top left corner?”. Eye tracking helps remote collaboration and interaction in many situations, for example between doctors analyzing radiology images, or when it comes to practical work, where students need to follow what an expert or lecturer is looking at.
The eye tracking bubble shows where the user is looking, making remote collaboration easier
At Tobii, we have always known that one of the things eye tracking does best is to significantly speed up and scale out manual processes that rely on expertise into digital ones that deliver enhanced insights and unbiased facts. What we are experiencing now is that with the shift-to-the-home, such digital processes turn from nice-to-have to need-to-have in many cases. Because of social distancing it is no longer possible for the expert, be it a doctor, teacher, or an instructor, to meet physically with the person that needs assistance. And even when the pandemic is over, we may not want to go back to the way things were in all situations, for a variety of reasons, convenience being one, connecting diagnosis with training results may be another reason. The need-to-have may shift into want-to-have.
In the case of eye tracking enabled tools and technologies – the digital transformation they provide is likely to provide a level of insight, accessibility, and scalability that makes us want to keep them.
If you aren’t familiar with eye tracking, you may want to begin exploring it by taking a look at one of our introduction videos.
If you think attention computing and eye tracking present an opportunity for you to grow your business and support the shift-to-the-home trend, feel free to reach out to us or visit tech.tobii.com.