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Presentation at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam, April 28, by Adam Richardson, Creative Director at frog design. Looks at the collision of the web and the physical objects, and what the future may hold for "webjects".
The title of my talk was rather hastily conceived as &#x201C;The future of the web will be invisible.&#x201D; But it might better be thought of as &#x201C;the future of the web will be physical&#x201D;
Collision of web and physical objects - area of most interest at frog, where we work on both
The main theme today will be of comformance - how do we as humans conform to the things we make, including the web, and how do they conform to us? And what are the trends going forward?
Let me start by talking about trains. In particular, trains in the town of Wolsztyn, in central Poland.
The Wolsztyn experience, started by 2 English brothers, Howard and Trevor Jones. Rescued the last section of steam trains in Poland. Working trains, but tourists (mostly my fellow Englishmen) can run the trains.
We have to conform to trains, because trains run on limited schedules and have limited places they go. That was fine for a long time, and for many people still is.
But cars are individualistic, and more customizable - they conform to our needs of time and space.
(This is a bit simplistic, as cars have caused a lot of changes in built environment, and the environment has had to conform to cars in many ways)
With technology objects, functionality can be added and added as a way of making products more adaptable to different needs and situations.
and we see the phone and PC markets converging, adding to the confusion
[clip from Tron]
[movie clip of Coca Cola commercial showing avatars in real world]
I worked at Sun in the 1990&#x2019;s when the web and Mosaic first appeared Limited formats for the web - had to get through browser on a PC This was fine for the time
This trend is already well underway with augmented reality in mobile devices, such as Wikitude, even the iTunes music store, arguably the first mass market weblication - the browser invisibly embedded into the application All examples of the traditional browser with urls, bookmarks, back/forth navigation, all disappearing into something else
More examples: Layar, Amazon Remembers
We can see this going on at very large scale too Healthy day for GE, a takeover of all the screens in Times Square, with real time user-generated content from around the world about how people think of health displayed on the screens. Created by frog design&#x2019;s NY studio
[Movie clip zooming from North America down to street level view]
Objects were dumb islands
The two realms are beginning to intersect. Early thinking on this includes spimes, internet of things
Medical is an area that this is really taking off in, as the medical industry tries to deal with sprialling costs, and is looking at distributed care, remote care, and self-care as ways of doing that.
So we&#x2019;ve been seeing a lot of companies experimenting with how to use the web in combination with diagnostic and monitoring products
Ecosystem diagram of a heart monitoring patch that sends data to the cloud for storage, monitoring and diagnostics
Heart monitoring Motion - activity levels. Maybe alert someone if you don&#x2019;t move for a while Temperature Track changes caused by medication Send all this out into the cloud for doctor, family, caregiver to follow, help support Many chronic diseases require changes in behavior that have to be supported by those around you, using the web is a great way of helping enable that.
Your heartbeat becomes part of a social conversation
In fact this is already happening.
Nike + is one of the most successful internet of things offerings. Turned running back into Nike&#x2019;s fastest growing category. Works because of a seamless integration of hardware, software, web, back-end, all wrapped in a service and brand.
I discuss Zipcar at length in my book, Innovation X Power of design and user experience - turned car sharing from an unpleasant, hard to use service to a fun, mainstream one. Did it by creating a seamless ecosystem that combines web and physical objects (cars, parking spaces, RFID, smart cards)
Smart choices about off-the-shelf and proprietary From Innovation X
Bringing web intelligence into retail, embedding it into kiosk/cash register Working concept for Intel - we built several of them at frog in SF
Intel - digital store signage concept, presented at CES earlier this year by Paul Otellini, Intel CEO Large scale augmented reality display Recognizes height and gender Provides a real-time overlay of store behind screen Touching on screen highlights items and brings up more detail Advertising runs on 70&#x201D; LCD on right Mobile, web and back-end integration Built from scratch as a working prototype http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10433147-1.html http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/2010/20100111corp.htm
What do object&#x2019;s forms tell us about their identity any more? Form follows function doesn&#x2019;t apply any more. Intel signage was just a frame. Is that the future?
Will objects just become windows onto content, and otherwise meaningless as forms?
Will objects as meaningful forms still have a role in the future? Here&#x2019;s a selection of iPhones from the frog office in San Francisco. The iPhone is generally considered a very nice looking object, but even these designers, who are supposed to care about beauty, have covered that beauty up.
Is that because all they care about is what&#x2019;s on the screen? Is every object destined to just be a black shiny slate?
But physical objects still have a special power over us, and that&#x2019;s not going to change any time soon. If anything, in a world where web and objects are combined, the object becomes even more important as a talisman of the ecosystem that it channels and represents.
To bring back my earlier example, people love trains. Trains are wonderful objects. But a train by itself is pretty pointless. Trains only get their real value from the ecosystem of track, schedules, back-end operations, other trains etc. that supports them. Similarly, webjects may be prized as objects, but their use-value will mostly accrue from the ecosystem of web content and services around them
Just as cars didn&#x2019;t just become carriage + engine, webjects will not just be linear evolutions of web + objects Webjects will emerge as something else, but we can&#x2019;t envision what that will be yet
Technology creates new needs to an extent But at the end of the day, technology doesn&#x2019;t matter unless it can be made relevant to people&#x2019;s lives.
The Next Web Keynote by Adam Richardson, frog design
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Next Web 2010
April 28, 2010