Introducing Beyond Mobile, My New Book with Robert Scoble -

Shel Israel inContext

Introducing Beyond Mobile, My New Book with Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble and I announced yesterday that we were starting our third book together. The following is a summary of what it is about. It is a self publishing effort, financed by corporate sponsors and has a target publication date of Nov. 1. Once again, it will be a self-publishing effort. We have already lined up two sponsors: Telstra, the leading digital phone company in Australia, and  Aisle411, a leading interior mapping app publisher.

Below is a summary of what our book is about.


Beyond Mobile:

Altered Reality, Robots, Cars, Genies & other Freaky Stuff

Every January since 1907, the auto industry has introduced its newest models at the North American International Auto Show, more commonly called, the Detroit Auto Show. It predates CES, the world’s largest tech gadget show, by several decades. Originally, the only thing the two events had to do with each other was they both took place in January, with CES always going first.

About 25 years ago, automotive products started to find their way into CES, but only as accessories such as navigation systems or sound systems that emulated ghetto blasters. But recently, new autos started making their premier appearances prior to the Detroit show. In the last couple of years, they’ve generated increasing attention at CES,  competing with televisions on one hand and mobile tech on the other.

This year, however, cars took center stage at CES. They were the most covered and talked about products at CES. A major keynote was about cars. Does this not seem strange to you?

Perhaps–perhaps not. The fact is that the modern automobile has become one very large consumer gadget. They have evolved into sensor-laden, location-aware, data-collecting devices. They are the largest mobile device for everyday people:  They are also always-on data-sharing devices that are continuously getting smarter and safer–so much so that they will soon be able to drive themselves. What began as a  horseless carriage is becoming the most advanced and intelligent of consumer devices for the mass market..

Interestingly to us, smartphones, are unquestionably the most ubiquitous digital device on Earth. According to Time magazine, Americans look at their phones 8 billion times daily. Every enterprise in the world has been scrambling to adjust their strategies to accommodate what Forrester Research has labeled the new Mobile Mind Shift.

It is not that our beloved phones are going away anytime soon–not by a long shot.

Yet, as Beyond Mobile explains, technology is going beyond the smartphone. It is getting closer to people and people are getting closer to it. And the phone itself will change significantly gaining three-dimensional capabilities, far greater intelligence and perhaps sometime in the next ten or 20 years, holograms will leap out of the screens allowing us to speak with our friends in holographic form, watch videos on screens or to be guided to shopping destinations with 3D internal maps that enhance experiences with augmented reality.

Today, we may see our phone screen as a window to the Internet and it is that–but it is also a barrier, where the technology remains on one side while we humans remain in front.

Now, emerging autonomous vehicles and other technologies are bypassing screens to surround and immerse people in ways that recently had only been found in science fiction.

There are billions of dollars being invested by some of the world’s largest and most powerful tech companies, the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Alibaba, Qualcomm and Intel — moving with determination into a strange and exciting space that goes beyond the capabilities of mobile phones. They are being met in the playing field by new generations of innovative and disruptive startups.

It makes for a crowded and complex global marketplace where fierce competition is likely to refine design and performance rapidly as prices fall steeply. In addition to autonomous vehicles, the authors define four additional technology categories that are moving with equally disruptive force and are likely to change work and life for billions of people and businesses over the next ten years.


They are:


  1.    Augmented and Virtual Realities [AR/VR]


At CES, AR/VR was the co-star to autonomous cars. There were scores of hardware and software introductions and previews, some representing years of research and billions in investments.  Almost invariably they involved headsets that contain tiny screens that provide users with stereoscopic views—an impossibility today on a mobile phone screen.

AR lets viewers see a real environment, except inserted into what they view through headsets is an additional layer that adds objects that are not there. This could be a monster smashing through a gamer’s living room wall, or an architect’s 3D model of a new building design, or a precise 3D map of the inside of a Walgreen pointing a shopper to a desired item.

In VR, users are immersed entirely in another world where they occupy the center of a three-dimensional space. They see activity in all directions including overhead and below.

AR/VR represents what some have started to call the Visual Internet, which at least one analyst predicts will be 100 times times larger than the existing Internet. It promises to dramatically increase the way people and things are intertwined in cyberspace and in their own homes and workplaces. Multiple sources are projecting explosive growth in the short-term future. According to TrendForce, another analyst,  just the VR portion will increase from less that $7 billion in 2016 to over $70 billion in 2020

Beyond Mobile examines many of the publically discussed products such as Oculus Rift, Magic Leap, Microsoft Hololens, Samsung Gear and Google Project Tango as well as lesser known products that we think demonstrate disruptive potential. It looks well beyond the games where many of these products are placing initial focus and looks at diverse serious applications such as the NYTimes partnering with Google to give subscribers new forms of news witnessing experiences such as viewing Paris in 3D in the aftermath of the 2015 terror attacks or Eni, a global energy company using VR to train oil rig workers on what to do in emergencies such as fire.

When you think about it, the autonomous car is actually a new form of robot, and like other robots you will talk and gesture with it because no keyboards will be involved. We think in 2016, people will start seeing robots doing useful and interesting things in the home and workplace. This may make people uncomfortable at first, but convenience and rapid adoption, will soon make robots and self-driving cars everyday things.

We will use augmented reality to see if the couch in the catalog will fit nicely into your living room or not and virtual reality will allow school kids to experience great moments in history rather than just read about it. Entire lanes of highways will be restricted to self-driving vehicles that will deliver people and goods to destinations with far greater safety, sustainability and efficiency than has ever been possible.


  1. Robots

Robots are devices that are built on artificial intelligence and are designed to perform either one specific task in a controlled environment such as a factory assembly line or to perform multiple tasks. They have been around a long time, Robot the authors report how they have started to progress at an exponential level. They are acquiring “eyes,” that allows them to see in depth and color just like humans. They communicate increasingly using a natural language that sounds like the talk of everyday people. For example, Nadine, a Singaporean humanoid is built to look like an actual human and the problems of her current poor eye contact are being worked on with development of 3D cameras that will let it see the way we see.

We report on how robots are moving out of factories and into more versatile jobs in construction, food handling and even protecting the Great Barrier Reef from environmentally destructive marine life. We address concerns about lost jobs and speculate on a world where people somehow have more leisure time and–some say– less financial constraint.


  1. Digital Genies

The category of personal digital assistant has been around for a while and some marvel at the potential for voice interactive mobile versions such as Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana that show great potential. Yet, we believe that such platforms have only progressed at the speed of jogging snails.

EchoOur book will point to a new generation of products that use natural language and artificial intelligence to perform more tasks with greater ease than any of these last generation apps. For example, Amazon Echo is a $180 device that sits in a convenient spot in the home. Alexa, a Siri-like voice, interacts with family members and guests. She has a better sense of humor than Siri, but more important, has a clearer understanding of what is being asked, improved memory and she can multitask impressively. Echo will manage any device that plugs into a wall, and allow centralized control of lights, video, sound and temperature. She orders household goods when supplies run low and  can start up cars, while their drivers sip coffee–if they happen to have recent model Fords.

But–in our view– the category show stopper, will be a platform introduced in mid-2016, called Viv.  Started by two partners who were members of the original Siri team and will eclipse just about everything that Siri can do–just at its inception. In his job as a technology futurist for Rackspace, Scoble reviews hundreds of products as they are launched every year. He called it the most significant technology he saw in 2015.

For openers, Viv is flexible and learns exponentially in a way that Siri can’t. More important than that, is that at inception it can understand complex queries such as finding a flight to Sydney, that has an available aisle seat in the exit row, or it will find you a pizza joint within 10 minutes of your current location that has the best Yelp ratings .

Perhaps even more significant, still,  is that Viv is an open system, so third-party developers can add to it by writing their own program in 1/20th of a second. So, next time someone wants to know about pizza places in your area or flights to Sydney, Viv already knows the answer and will remember while also updating Yelp reviews.

Viv will be on mobile devices, but it will go beyond where an old-fashioned PDA has been. She will be in the car, home devices, wearables and perhaps, tiny earable devices that whisper information into a user’s ear at a critical moment.

Personal Genies are, of course, closely related to robots.  They very often also take advantage of natural language and AI to perform tasks on behalf of humans. This is also true of the final category of Beyond Mobile, the one we have already mentioned: the autonomous car.


  1. Autonomous Cars

The self-driving cars we mentioned above were already a topic of abundant public discussion back when we were researching Age of Context in 2013. Back then,  automakers estimated they were at least 20 years into the future. Now, we believe they will start rolling along some highways in 2016. Some states are already issuing special plates Carfor them. We think the first commercial uses for them will come by  2020 and perhaps sooner. They will be commonplace by 2025, or so we believe.


Target Audiences

We write books for business decision makers, but we do so as tech and end-user champions. We believe by using the best technology to give customers the best possible experiences, we can give the smartest business strategists the tools they need to navigate the myriad twists and bumps on the road ahead.

Beyond Mobile is by no means a How-to’ book. Instead we strive to give readers the best possible information on changes being pushed forward in technology, so that they can figure out what to use in their particular use cases.

Some of the companies we talk about in this book may never bring their intended products to market. This is the risk that we take as writers focused on the near-term future of the most dynamic business category in history.

We don’t think that the future of any one company or product really matters that much. What matters is the inevitable places these AR, VR, Autonomous Cars, Robots and Genies are about to play in the work and life of most people. Where one company may fail, another that no one has yet heard of will come out of nowhere and fill that void.

Some of what we say will most certainly freak some people out. To be honest a little of it freaks us out. But as sure as the day follows the night, what we talk about here will become real and relevant to you, no matter what you do in the years ahead.

We hope you will find Beyond Mobile both interesting and useful.




2 Responses

  • Samee Khan
    Jan 26, 2016

    Really cool stuff. Just sat in on Mr. Scoble’s talk yesterday at Virginia Tech. As a well-read undergraduate student, I feel like I missed out on the glory days of the PC revolution. With AR/VR I feel like the opportunity to ride the wave is back just in time for me. Looking forward to the book!

    Samee Khan Jan 26, 2016
  • Jan 26, 2016


    Thanks for your comment. Robert is always a great presenter. I wouldn’t worry about having missed much of the pioneer days. Until very recently, it has all been about building a foundation. In our view more cool stuff will be invented in the next ten years than happened in the last 50.

    Shel Israel Jan 26, 2016

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