In today’s technology-saturated world, we have become increasingly mediated, enhanced, monitored, entertained, and communicated with digitally.

As we navigate our lives, weaving a virtual narrative and leaving digital footprints, over time we have come to witness numerous forms of physical media, hardware, software, commodity, and other forms of technology disappear or transform into the digital spectrum. A phenomenon that we may refer to as ‘functional obsolescence’.

A Sea of Obsolescence

From diminishing the mass-market relevance of CDs, beepers, printed maps, phone booths, and fax machines, to limiting the longevity of DVDs, digital cameras, paper mail, and landlines, we can list a plethora of commonplace staples that have fallen foul to functional obsolescence – defined as ‘a reduction in the usefulness or desirability of an object’.

Perpetuating Functional Obsolescence

The phenomenal acceleration of digitization, IT consumerization and, of course Wi-Fi ubiquity has facilitated our ever-increasing propensity for speed, convenience, data, and instantaneous acknowledgement. This in turn, has accelerated the tendency for new devices and technologies to inevitably become obsolete.

Nostalgics may view these countless instances of functional obsolescence in a negative light, however it in fact exemplifies our efficacy in improving, re-purposing, enhancing, and extending technology usage.

So What’s Next?

While some may argue that the iPhone headphone jack has been claimed by ‘functional obsolescence’ too soon. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have published a survey earlier this year concluding that most people accept and predict the inevitable obsolescence of ‘traditional payment methods’, such as cash and card. Especially with the ease and speed of using mobile-based applications for payment, the IEEE predict a major shift in payment norms by the year 2030.

Cybersecurity

In the same IEEE report, they also recorded a startling lack of concern for cyber security dangers. They state, “consumers throw caution to the wind on security”, especially concerning the security of personal and work e-mail. This apparent lack of concern for cyber security further concurs with the Xirrus study, ‘Where The Wires End’, that found 76% know public Wi-Fi is not secure, but 62% connect to any open network anyway.

As Diogo Monica, IEEE member and security lead states, “Cyber attacks can now unfortunately happen in nearly every element of our lives, such as our car, connected home, and wearable devices. Whether it’s putting more reliance in digital systems for our currency, or trusting that our e-mail accounts are secure, we need to be cognizant and take the necessary precautions to protect our digital footprint”.

Just last year, Xirrus became the first Wi-Fi provider to address these security concerns with the release of their free access management tool, ‘EasyPass Personal’. Created by Xirrus, it makes it simple to safeguard users and their data when accessing public Wi-Fi, guest networks and hotspot environments.

Reliable Wi-Fi is a necessity, but security is a must. As we continue to add to the ever-increasing list of examples of functional obsolescence, the very real risk of cyber security threat will also increase. Indeed, it seems not only should consumers look to educate themselves and mitigate their own risk of cyber security threat, but also those providing Wi-Fi should look to simple and effective ways to protect their consumers from harm.

To read further and learn seven ways to minimize your own risk, click here.