The idea of augmented reality is an interesting one. It is essentially looking at ways in which technology will be used to expose/overlay our digital connectedness moment to moment. Foursquare is a step in this direction. But how will this impact our lives in the future? What will our lives be like in 2020?
Tim Longhurst advises that to look forward 10 years you must look backwards 20 years and Mark Earls shows that it is BEHAVIOUR that drives thinking – not the other way around. So if we put these two together – we need to look at what behaviours were manifesting around technology in 1990 in order to imagine our lives in 2020.
For me, 1990 was an interesting year. I was just moving out of the safe confines of the university world and taking a job in publishing. It was all about digitalisation, automation and breaking down the silos that characterised the publishing production process. We had big, clunky PCs on our desks with disk drives. We had green screens, beige Commander phones and tweed lined cubicles. The control or ownership of technology was beginning to shift from those who dedicated their work life and knowledge to the mechanics of information to those who employed that knowledge as part of a business process – connecting the dots. This process it seems to me, continues.
Between 1986 when I first started working and 1990 the era of electronic banking had arrived, with my employers now electronically depositing my pay into my account. This meant I no longer needed to spend my Friday lunch hour queuing in the Westpac Bank on Martin Place to cash my meagre earnings. Of course, there was no online banking – in fact, there was hardly any “online” at all. That would not become part of my life for several more years – and when it did, it was all about 2400 baud modems and bulletin boards.
The clever team over at Frog Design have, however, done much of the heavy lifting for us. They ran workshops with Forbes magazine last year and have put together a series of visuals that bring to life a sense of what may be (you can see them above). They focused on key areas of our personal experiences – social, travel, commerce, healthcare and media. They talk of the “Bodynet” – to monitor our health and fitness, “Whuffie Meter” to measure our social worth/popularity and “Our Second Brain” to connect what we see with the vast sea of indexed knowledge available.
But given how far we have come since 1990, I wonder whether these go far enough. I wonder if 2020 is just too far beyond our horizon. For example, if i had known about the iPad in 2008 it would have changed the way I think about advertising, media and personal and business behaviour through to 2010. And that’s just a span of two years.
Having said that, visualising just what might be possible creates an interesting dialogue with the future – and this is one we need to have. Don’t forget to check out the Design Mind blog – there’s plenty more food for thought.