There's a flurry of startup interest and social location apps that are working to glue the web to our physical locations. Tech enthusiast Robert Scoble prompted a Buzz discussion (another location capable media) to determine which was the best service, with varied opinions weighing in. Physical location and orientation is but one piece of the puzzle to seemlessly weave the web within our physical world and social lives. Augmented Reality is the channel of opportunity that will enable a rich blending of mobile web, location/orientation, and most importantly social discovery and connectivity.
Far Out Future
Looking further ahead I can perceive Kevin Kelly's vision of Internet aware chips connecting all things and beings. In his latest work "What technology wants", which he crafts using The Technium blog, I suspect we share the same conclusion: technology wants to embrace every aspect of the physical world. My expectation is that we'll have full control over our personal networks (unless Apple & AT&T build them). Nano-technology will empower monitors within our bodies to probe for health risks. Tiny particle size chips will also enable full 4 dimensional mapping (3D space + time history) of our environments and have instant communication to our minds' sensory processing centers. We'll literally be capable of seeing through walls (we already can with crude phone camera apps), and sense all around us zooming in our perception to probe for greater details. The utility and creativity of such adaptive augmented reality tools is near limitless. But there's a beautiful form of personalization that I haven't yet explored. The implicit adaption of our surroundings to our wishes.
The trajectory forwards we're developing at Victus Media is boosted by semantic social "listening" tools. Like caveman paintings compared to modelling the oceans of Europa, I've chosen to help make simple effective utilities that can pave the way towards an adaptive interconnected future. The start of our journey is introducing a pattern of web service behavior. Active web services can recognize the presence of a visitor, and use knowledge about a visitor's interests to personalize the experience. As developers we're always guessing and modifying tools to appease a large user base while alienating others. The ability to dynamically adapt a service to individual visitors will help familiarize new users and save proficient users time (two way search).
- A visit to a blog or news site could provide you with a list of posts on the sidebar which match your public expressed interests. This trivial to implement search overcomes the problem of comparing two unknown sets by connecting them (your interests with blog tags)
- A visit to a bookstore while travelling for business can be as comfortable as visiting one near home. By sharing your location and interests to approved third parties (businesses will pay for this privelege), the store could suggest relevant new releases that correspond to your socially expressed topics, previous purchases, and public friend recommendations.
- Upon walking into a coffee shop for the first time the barista could begin making your favorite drink with a simple gesture to approve the process
- A first visit to a virtual world like Second Life could place your avatar in a starting location that best matches your array of current interests, or provide you with a more intelligent short list of highly probable matching defaults
The goal of adaptive information services isn't to remove choice, but to suggest a more rational selection of defaults to new visitors. Personalization is a competitive advantage future businesses won't have the luxury of ignoring.
*note: we connect user interest tags to social IDs at the moment but the area of user ID is improving rapidly