Wireless networks are very hard to connect for the average consumer. Configuring routers, passwords, codes: this is way too complicated. For the average consumer, connecting the TV is hard enough already. As a result, by far the most appliances in households are still stand-alone.
This is now going to change. A standard has been established: the so-called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) standard, which will make it extremely easy to connect new appliances. For example a new TV which is also directly connected to the network, and through which you can directly watch a movie, or download it on demand. Or a display on the kitchen cabinet, on the edge of the bath or in the bathroom, which you only have to plug in to be able to do anything you want. This road is now open. And not just to watch: the displays will especially also react to us. So that the TV automatically tunes in to the soccer game you were just watching in the kitchen. This standard makes it all possible for everybody.
This Interactive 360 Degree Light Field Display is capable of producing 3D images which can be viewed by multiple users. At a different location, a physical man is copied and projected in 3D (fc, Dutch). Thus the physical world gets a place in the virtual world. Later we will stand in our living room, we are copied there, and then we are 3D and interactively projected in someone’s room in Sydney. ‘Later’... it will take at least a couple of years but step by step it goes this direction.
Motorola is working on a pico projector: a very small projector which in the future can be built into mobile phones, and with which tomorrow’s consumer can project films and images on walls, floors, or even in the air (mc, Dutch). This way again a practical screen evolves through which consumers can interact with each other and with brands. If we have a question about a product, we keep our mobile phone close to it, the brand agent appears, we ask our spoken question and then get a complete demo in a video. And if the projection of the mobile phone is not good enough, we can always switch to a 3D projection through a different, close-by device. Or maybe we should project right on the product for a special effect. This development adds to that.
European scientist have discovered how micro robots can influence the behavior of cockroaches. The tiny robot smells and acts just like a roach, fooling the real insects into accepting it as one of their own. Through its behaviour, the robot can persuade a group of cockroaches to venture out into the light despite their normal preference for the dark, for example. (ns). We keep developing artificial intelligence. The researchers behind the robot believe it could be used to catch cockroaches and that bots designed to mimic other animals could one day work on farms controlling flocks of sheep and chickens by similar means. Dogs will come after that, and humans too. Around 2050 the earth will be inhabited by robots who look so much like people that we will not realize they are not real people (and then again, what is real?). These robots will be the most important representatives of brands. They are the physical variant of the brand agent. Those variants that can literally lend you a hand. Great for elderly people, for example. This is a small step in that direction.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have discovered how nano molecules (extremely small molecules that can literally be put together by humans) can ‘smell’ illnesses (ns). We develop more and more technologies that allow brands to react to people. Now for illnesses (ideal for health coaching brands), but in the future social coaching brands for example could smell how we feel with other people, or career coaching brands can smell our stress in a conversation with a colleague. And help us take the next steps. This is a small step in that direction.
Microsoft is working on a technology in which a normal glass window acts as a mirror, an interactive display, and a photocopier at the same time. By simply holding a document against the window, it is directly copied to the screen, and we can manipulate it with our fingers. Every physical object gets its place in the virtual world. If it doesn’t have one yet, we will place it ourselves. See also the video below.
Philips announced its laboratories have succeeded in making a wafer-thin, bendable display in color. This electronic paper doesn’t use energy any more after the page has been loaded (eg). In the end, the e-paper will be THE biggest threat for paper media. We will take it in our pocket to the train, the bathroom or the sunny beach on our vacation. Wireless connected to the internet, we’ll have access to all possible content, to all our friends, to all possible brands. This medium will comply with the rules of the web, and not with the rules of paper media. It will take another couple of years, but earlier or later brands will have to cope with this.
The Australian University of Melbourne has developed a prototype under the name ‘Jogging over Distance’, in which two people who jog separately can yet hear each other at the distance they would be if they were jogging together. 3D audio simulation is used to make it seem like the slower jogger is really behind you, or the quicker jogger is in front of you. This could be very stimulating (tx). We imitate the physical world as good as we can so that we can experience anything we like at any place on earth. Alone, or with other people. This is an example of things really going in that direction.
Hiroshi Ishiguro from the Japanese Intelligent Robotics Lab has designed a robot which down to the tiniest of details resembles himself. The skin tone, the hair color and length, the glasses. Even inside the robot all kinds of technologies are used to make it look as human as possible. It contains 50 sensors and motors, it can see through its ‘eyes’, talk through its internal speaker and shrug or scowl if prodded and poked. Even the breathing is imitated. At first, you may feel strange about the android,” said Dr Ishiguro. “However, once you are drawn into a conversation, you will forget every difference and feel totally comfortable to speak with it and look it in the eyes.” (dm). We imitate humans down to the tiniest of details. We have a natural motive to build things that looks just like ourselves. It started with drawings, later with dolls and chat bots. And it doesn’t stop. With these kinds of robots we will be able to do whatever we want. Cheer in a football stadium (after buying a ticket), use him as a servant, or - of course - as a sex toy. Brands will use him (and her) for service in cinemas, to load and unload the shopping, or to make a just opened restaurant look crowded. This way the movie WestWorld from 1973 slowly becomes reality, and we massively dive into the experience economy. We will have to wait for this a couple more years though. Until then we just keep on building tomorrow’s brands.
Philips has applied for a patent for a furry display. The display comprises areas of furry fabric. Through activation by the user, the surface of furry fabrics is electrostatically charged. The furs repel from the surface and each other vertically (like when your hair gets static). If the fur has a different color than the surface beneath it, the color of the pixel will change. When these new types of pixels are put together in a square, a completely new display emerges, which feels very soft (ns). This way we get more and more displays for interfaces with the virtual world. Pillows, sheets, hats, gloves: everything becomes interactive and connected. And through media like these we will communicate with brands. What brands will feel softest?
Sony patents a hand controller with which each finger separately can ‘feel’ pressure (gb/uw). This is an important difference with for example the controller of the WII which ‘only’ determines the position of the controller in the room, or which reacts to fingers without touching a screen. It adds the dimension of tangibility. We try to make the virtual world more and more real. So that we feel, smell, see, hear, or taste something that is actually not there, that doesn’t exist, at least not at this location. A world in which brands will keep reinventing themselves. This is a small step in that direction.
Scientists are working on shoes which make you feel like you’re walking forward when you wear them. Through small wheels in the shoes turning in opposite direction, it feels like we move forward while in reality we stay in the same place (fc, Dutch). We try to imitate the real world as much as possible, so we can experience everything from out of our own homes. So that we can jump from experience to experience. These experiences in the future will be provided by brands. This is a small step in that direction.