“All of our devices – our mobile phones, cameras, toys and media players – will become increasingly aware of where we are. Soon, geographical location, rather than broadcast schedules, will trigger entertainment experiences. Content will be tagged to places, and these will alert you to the proximity of your friends and people of similar interests” – Mike Walsh, Author of Futuretainment
The way we experience the web is moving quickly towards a standard where content is not linear, but relative. When content is linear, one piece of content leads us to another. But when the model is relative, any piece of content can be accessed via contextual triggers anywhere, any time and on any device.
Location is going to be a primary trigger that changes how we experience web content. In fact, it wont be long before a lot of the content that exists on the web will also exist as overlays to our senses as we move through the real world. Sound crazy? It’s not. It’s what the augmented reality movement is all about, and it’s coming fast.
A few days ago at TED, Bing engineers demonstrated that they are going way beyond Google’s Street View technology, using backpack cameras to capture pedestrian spaces, Flickr integration to provide a more diverse picture of a place over time, telescope data to allow people to get information on celestial bodies, and live video to show what’s happening in a place in real time. It’s pretty incredible. If you’re not impressed by this 6 minute demo, I’d take a moment to chew on what you’re seeing for a second, and consider for a second how evolved this still-young this technology is…
What Does This Mean For Us and The Web?
Well, first of all, putting content into context this way gives an unprecedented level of depth of information and understanding about place and our relationship to it. As Blaise Aguera y Arcas told Fast Company in a recent interview…
“If you want to explore, if you want to really understand more about a place, you really need to be able to get right down in there, and see if from the point of view that people actually experience it. As great as it is to use cameras on top of cars for building that visual trellis, that’s not the actual human perspective.”
With a layer of user generated content on top of maps we can look around and explore where we are with a completely new set of lenses.
- It’ll be social – other people’s photos and videos will give us a unique perspective of the history and social context of where we are,
- It’ll be personal – Our own location-tagged photos, videos and content can allow us to relive moments when we visit places that are meaningful to us.
- It’ll be educational – instead of having to read and learn in a linear way, you’ll be able to put yourself at the center of the action, in context of place (and eventually time).
Most importantly, the rise of the Geoweb will open up completely new categories for business and innovation. It’s not hard to imagine a variety of commercial applications for virtual augmented reality tours or rich entertainment, educational and social experiences. With consumers rushing to buy location-aware smart phones, expect to see a lot of movement in the mobile market for these types of experiences in the next few years. Exciting stuff.