Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending EmTech MIT hosted by MIT Technology Review. It was inspiring, exciting and motivating to see the innovators of today give us a glimpse of the emerging technologies that will influence the future. The event was especially fascinating for me because as a consumer insights analyst at Forrester Research, I closely follow consumer technology adoption. At the event, Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at Google[x], discussed how the technology giant approaches tackling society’s greatest challenges: The initiative needs to address an enormous problem that can be named, the solution needs to be radical, and is based on science and technology. Working on emerging technologies like the self-driving car, Google Glass, and smart contact lenses, Google[x] is at the forefront of bringing futuristic technologies to market.

Yoky Matsuoka, Vice President of Technology at Nest Labs shared her view of how technology can help people with things we’re just not good at. In the case of home energy control, this means remembering to adjust our thermostats when we don’t need as much heating or cooling and checking the smoke detector regularly to make sure it works. She explained that in order to build a device that people will trust and buy, the technology needs not only address people’s pain points, but also be beautiful, intuitive and ensure that the user is ultimately in charge. Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President of the IBM Watson Group, shared what’s next for Watson, and how it has evolved past winning at Jeopardy to helping companies intelligently process and share their information in industries like finance and healthcare. There were many other emerging technologies presented, and I just listed a few that I believe will truly transform the role of technology in people’s lives in the future.

Forrester’s own Consumer Technographics® data demonstrates the evolution of consumer technology adoption over time, and how technologies that people weren’t fully comfortable with in the past are being embraced today. For instance, a year ago, we predicted that the digital home was about to get more sophisticated.  We found that usage for emerging technologies like remote home energy management was limited to a small subset of early adopters (only 2% were using a device for home energy management in 2013). A year later, Forrester’s 2014 Q2 Consumer Technology Survey shows that 62% of US online adults are either currently using or interested in using a device to monitor and adjust energy usage in their home.

Events like EmTech MIT hosted by MIT Technology Review give us a preview of the technologies of the future. I certainly look forward to witnessing these emerging technologies enter the lives and homes of consumers in the future.