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We’re entering a new era of technology. The internet used to be focused on communication and the display of information. Then it became about e-commerce during the early dot-com boom, with the high-profile success of companies like Amazon and eBay. Today, technology is touching every corner of our lives — more than ever before — including the tangible products and services that seemed to have nothing to do with the web or internet culture.

The driving experience

A prime example is our cars. Vehicles are very physical conveyances that for generations were separate from advanced technology. Even car stereos remained analog much longer than you’d necessarily anticipate (partly because people buy new cars so seldomly). Now though, the web and cloud technologies are rapidly infiltrating the automotive business.

Streaming music and podcasts delivered by third-party applications like Pandora, Spotify and Slacker Radio provide infinite entertainment possibilities while you are driving. And almost all new cars come equipped with generously-sized touchscreens on their dashboards, providing access to other helpful web-apps like Google Maps for navigation. In the future, it’s not unlikely that you’ll be able to stream a bottomless catalogue of movies for your children in the backseat, tweet with voice command from the driver’s seat and more.

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Where you are, right now

Your physical location is now up for grabs pretty much 24 hours a day. How many applications on your phone ask your permission upon download to pinpoint your location in space? A lot of them are doing it right now, and it’s enhanced our lives in incredible ways. It’s easier than ever to get where you’re going, even when you didn’t even start out with a goal. You can also see where your friends are on apps like Foursquare, whether they’d like to hang out, if they’re enjoying the food they’re eating. You can even track how fast your teenager is driving their brand new car using their cell phone, to determine whether you need to call them to slow down.

This is only going to become more elaborate. Geo-fencing (the virtual division of neighborhoods, indoor spaces, etc.), is being leveraged to offer people rewards or discounts for visiting stores, or to suggest destinations based on predefined preferences. All of this information is being stored on the internet, with knowledge being doled out based on location.

Every need, before you need it

Suddenly, the internet is providing solutions for problems we didn’t even know we had. Cabs used to work just fine (or seemed to), but now that Uber and Flywheel, are on the market, we no longer need to stand out on the street, hand raised in the air waiting for a car to come by. You don’t know what skincare or cosmetics to buy? Now there are infinite services like Birchbox that can send you samples monthly until you pinpoint exactly what works for you. Want to know what your dog is up to when you’re not there? Try Whistle Activity Monitor — attached to your dog’s collar, it collects data 24 hours a day and sends insights straight to your phone.

With new interfaces like Google Glass picking up speed, and augmented reality still cooking (though yet to manifest anything truly interesting), it’s hard to predict what services will become technologized next. But it’s a good bet that no matter what you’re going to do next, the internet will have gotten there first.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Scott McLeod

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