By Riky Stock
Attending Web 2.0 at the Sheraton New York this week along with visionaries, marketing professionals, and web experts was like stepping into the future and realizing the future really isn’t that far away. In my version of the immediate future I imagine myself owning own a pair of “augmented reality visors” just like the ones I learned about in the previous session. Augmented reality is an emerging technology that allows for digital images and information to be overlaid on smartphone screens or computer monitors. I picture my interactive visors as a very advanced, wearable smartphone.
I walk towards what I imagine a future bookstore could look like. A location-triggered mobile marketing text message appears on my visor that reads “Welcome back! Last time you bought the new Barbara Kingsolver. Come on in and check out similar titles.” I enter and my augmented reality device scans the barcode on the name tag of the sales person in the far left corner and allows me to check out the store’s Facebook fan page and most recent blog posts. I plop down in a comfy lounge chair in the middle of the room and watch the virtual ads on the wall. Most of them are promoting books, and all are in 3D. Whenever an ad features a book I like, my visor scans it and provides me with reviews of people I know through social networking sites. I download a few sample pages to check them out later.
Since, as always, I need to buy a souvenir for my kid, I get up and browse through the soft touch-and-feel picture books and the children’s merchandise section. (Yes, in my future there are still bound books.) I take a picture of some of them as taking pictures of barcodes is part of a game I have been playing. When I take a picture of certain barcodes I win points for my game.
In addition, the visor alerts me to great discounts and makes suggestions as to what I should buy next. By this time, the Web 2.0 session I meant to attend just started, but luckily I can click on the live video function on my device and can follow the conference similar to what IBM did at Wimbledon. I quickly choose what I want to purchase. My devise sends a picture of my credit card over to the bookseller and I can go back to my conference (Chase has this for checks, credit cards can only be a matter of time). Now it’s is almost time for their lunch break where I am going to use the face recognition app to talk to fellow marketers and to exchange some ideas with them on choice architecture and as to how building sociability into an application will make readers buy more books.
In reality, I just finished my coffee and went to the next session. But I think it is important that we in the publishing industry allow ourselves to start having these kinds of daydreams. At Web 2.0, I saw new and exciting technology just waiting to help us bring a bit of new life into our industry, and bring us closer to a future that really isn’t that far away at all.