cell hospitalSilicon Valley has been abuzz with deciding on the “next big thing” at Bloomberg’s event for the past two days and they’ve decided on “contextually aware applications.” Well, of course it is.

The first level of context aware or context based mobility is in location – one of the hottest topics of 2013, both indoor (Apple purchase of Wi-Fi Slam) and outdoor (Google purchase of Waze). Also, location has been gaining attention in both the enterprise (zone-based policy control/geofencing) and consumer (push coupons, mall tracking) markets. We have grown accustomed to not printing out directions to a new location and entering the address on GPS once we get behind the wheel, even if these directions lead us astray half of the time.

Just as important, we expect to get the documents and information we need in our current location like a virtual digital assistant.

For example, hospitals have a big problem with HIPPA and document transport, but, with context aware mobility, we could prevent those becoming issues.  If a physical therapist in a hospital approaches a patient’s room, the EMR (Electronic Medical Records) app could start and open the patient’s records to see they type of therapy required. After the PT session, the therapist makes a couple of notes and as she goes, the app updates the EMR and closes the patient records. The therapist doesn’t need to keep track of what records go with which patient, the insurance company, nurses and doctors know the treatment has been delivered, and the hospital is secure in the knowledge that the patient’s healthcare records aren’t floating around on an employee’s mobile device.

But location is just step one. As technology grows, so do capabilities and the numbers of sensors that feed information into your device. Location is the first step and will always be a large contributing factor to the mobile user experience. After all, the context aware computing market is expected to reach $120 billion by 2018 and is largely driven by growing consumer, enterprise and healthcare desires.