Not too long ago, if you wanted to stay in touch, listen to music, watch a movie, take a photo and play a game while taking a trip, you would have been loaded down with different devices. You might have had your mobile phone (before ‘smartphones’ were a thing), an MP3 player, a portable but quite clunky DVD player, a digital camera and a handheld gaming console.
Nowadays, all that functionality and more can fit on a single device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or portable console. Many people don’t use their phones primarily to make or receive calls or even use SMS text messaging. A smartphone is still a convenient way to keep in touch, of course, but there are now many instant messaging and chat formats available. Users are just as likely to use their devices to browse the web, use social media or interact with the countless apps available. Whether you want to use a casino bonus finder to find free spins and special offers across a wide range of online casino sites and apps, instantly check train times, or even watch a complete movie in high definition, all that utility is in the same place.
This bringing together of previously unrelated technologies – often in a single device – is known as technological convergence, and it is driven by a number of factors. First is a consumer demand for convenience. Noone apart from retro gadget enthusiasts isgoing to willingly carry around all the different devices mentioned above when they could combine the functionality they need into a single item, and consumers are now used to such multipurpose items. The second major factor is the ever-increasing improvement in technology, which makes such combinations possible in the first place. Technology can be embedded in ever-smaller devices, and while there has been a recent trend for slightly bigger smartphone screens, this does mean that more technology can potentially be built into smaller, less bulky devices.
Commercialization of technology also brings lower costs, making previously expensive cutting-edge technology more readily available. Wi-Fi, for example, was available in the late 1990s, but a router cost a lot of money and had to be set up by an IT professional. These days, hubs are relatively easy to set up, and almost every consumer electronic device is Wi-Fi enabled. In smart homes, this might even include items such asthe kettle, doorbell and thermostat. While the smartphone is probably still the best example of convergent technology, smart speakers and home assistants are becoming more and more popular.
The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) is another reason why convergent technology is on the increase. This growing web of interconnectedness allows a smart speaker to do so much more than talk and play music. Through it, you can control the lighting and temperature in your home – assuming that you have the smart infrastructure, of course – find a weather forecast, or send a message to a loved one. Convergent technology, it seems, is very much here to stay.