Imagine a place where the physical is overlaid with digital information uploaded by people; a city whose buildings have been augmented with information as the people who live there share their thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences with each other. This is the future as imagined in The Augmented City, an online short film by London-based designer Keiichi Matsuda.
The film represents an Augmented Reality (AR) future. AR, as previously described by LS:N Global reports on AR specialists Total Immersion, layers virtual information onto objects in the real world.
‘Technology and how consumers use it is at the heart of the film,’ says Matsuda. ‘In The Augmented City, consumers will aggregate information from everywhere, in the same way that we use social networking sites today.’
From social to spatial networking
People today use Facebook to tell friends how they are feeling, and Matsuda suggests they will do so in an augmented way in the future. In the film, a character broadcasts her mood using an AR app. It’s a spatial form of social networking; or spatial networking, if you like.
In a spatially networked world, people will be able to experience real-world recommendations made by others. Just as TripAdvisor helps travellers choose their hotels online, so an augmented version of that in the real world will help people choose where to eat lunch. ‘Brands that are popular with consumers will get the most publicity,’ says Matsuda.
‘In the old days, advertisements could only be generated through channels such as billboards and TV,’ says Matsuda. But in The Augmented City, consumers become living, walking media platforms by sharing their thoughts on their favourite things. The main character in Matsuda’s film does this, for example, by broadcasting his support for Fairtrade products. In The Augmented City, advertising will be a conversation between consumers.
In the near future, consumers will broadcast their own thoughts, in real time and in the real world. And they’ll know, in real time and in the real world, what their peers and networks think of brands, products and services. Just as social networking has revolutionised the internet, so spatial networking will revolutionise the real world.
Top five take-outs
1: The city is now both virtual and physical. Information shared by consumers is as important as buildings themselves.
2: Spatial networking will give consumers in the real world much more knowledge, information and power than before.
3: Spatial networking will support more personal and communal networks of information.
4: Instead of trying to tap into conversations in social media, brands will think about having a meaningful place in spatial media. ‘The Augmented City is a form of media that can be consumed,’ says Matsuda.
5: The Augmented City is closer than you think. Smartphones are already enabling first-generation spatial networking. Next-generation technology that is easier and less obtrusive to use is already in development. See Vuzix for more, and read our report on geomarketing.