futureness: ambient information and entertainment in 2050

couple of thoughts for a project by our friends at rightanglestudio.com.au

— How do you expect people living in the city in 2050 will benefit from the Internet of Things?

Wherever we are living by 2050 we can look forward to the decline of screens and the growth of ambient information. Fewer screen-led devices and more contextual information fed through into organic physical forms. We are currently in a phase of moving to natural interactions such as voice or audio, gesture, translation and touch, and screens are becoming thinner, more flexible and less conspicuous. From there it is a short step to move all of the functions that we currently have loaded onto our phones and relocate them in more appropriate pieces of furniture. Humans have used simple tools to perform complex tasks for millenia - it's more natural, so I like the idea of a world filled with elegant consumable technology in discrete forms. More not fewer, simpler not more complex. The new devices will use all the data streams we generate naturally in order to create ambient utilities that nudge and augment us via the physical objects around us. We are always being told to listen to our bodies, but in the future we will listen our bodies data, and to the data of the objects around us. It's as simple as expecting cups to tell you the temperature of the coffee, or the place where you normally put your keys showing you where you actually left your keys with an arrow and "your keys are ~5m that-a-way." Think of anything that it is useful to know and imagine a softer, more helpful way to experience that information.

 

— How will we be entertained in the future?  

The most immersive experience we have at the moment is the book. Reading can change the way we relate to the world over a sustained period. So the most receptive organ to immersive entertainment is yet to be truly tapped by the digital world the way we have altered our experience of drama or games. We still read long books in old fashioned ways, turning digital pages or even turning down corners of actual paper novels.

As humans we segment play, pretend, and reality from an early age, and we learn that the strongest responses come from reality, rather than play or role-play. So I'd imagine that the while there will always be space for lean-back consumption - like TV - the passive dramatic experience (whether that is 3D or 360 degree surround-video holodecks). We can imagine that, it is a bot more of a stretch to get to entertainment that wraps itself invisibly around you, becoming contextual to your specific circumstances - responding to the data that defines you - in other words for the story or action to embed itself in your world and blend the boundaries between reality and fiction. (There is advertising that already does this called 're-marketing', using cookies and tracking tags to follow you. Perhaps the new narrative forms will come from there?)

But the level of immersion that books reach, where you begin to feel you exist in their world, and behave as if characters are real - that would open up many possibilities, from romance to pathos, comedy and tragedy.  There will be an author who can combine the decision trees in gaming mechanisms with deep, long-form story-telling and will be able to blend media to deliver this story across multiple touch points, using video, social, long-form and graphic story-telling devices to genuinely 'immerse' the reader in their narrative creation. You will opt in to the story. In fact we see this already in any celebrity news story - except these are organic, unstructured and non-personalised, but all these components exist and occasionally 'go viral' becoming ubiquitous, we simply need to harness and refine them.