How Screens Will Change Our Physical World



Click here to read This post in Danish for Mandag Morgen

Last week I was at Times Square in New York with my daughter, which is a hub for tourists and the always busy New Yorkers. Suddenly I could see our faces on one of the large billboards that covers the city's facades. On the screen there was a clock that counted down from 10 to a Kiss.

The cosmetics firm Revlon is running a rebranding campaign called "LoveIsOn" where they use augmented reality to film couples who walks on the street passing their billboard. They capture a couple on the screen and then give them 10 seconds to kiss and share their "Love" with the public on a Manhattan skyscraper. And that day it it was me and my daughter's turn.

There was a crowd of people gathered looking at the screen and at the couples who were captured by the camera. It is not just the 10 seconds on a large screen that attracts the masses, but the fact that we get engaged in our real-time environment.

This is an example of one of the many screen scenarios, we will soon get use to face, but connected with even more data, interaction and intelligence than we experience today.

Screens counting everything from television screens, laptops, tablets, phablets and smartphones - is our window to the digital and virtual world. In the future, the definition of what a screen is and can be, will be much more fluid, because all surfaces by default can serve as access to our data.

Consumers' first encounter with true mobility occurred when smartphones were launched back in 2007. Back then we could suddenly access everything everywhere, that had previously been reserved on our static devices and screens.

Today it is not only our mobile phones that have become smart and intelligent. There are also a variety of other technologies such as biometrics, augmented and virtual reality, 3D cameras, holograms and the evolution of big data and IoT (Internet of Things). Together, the new technologies gives us intelligent solutions that supports human behavior and gets closer to our cognitive abilities. Even with a smartphone in your hand there is still plenty of room for improvement, in the ways and how we interact with data in the public domain.

The development of displays will change drastically because the material gets thinner, bendable  and in every way more flexible. The chip manufacturer Qualcomm launched a 3D fingerprint technology based on ultrasonic technology and biometrics protocols that lets us use our biological passwords. Besides fingerprint we can also utilize our iris, voice, facial features and even electrocardiographic signals - to verify our identity.

Intel's Real Sense Lab is on a mission enabling us to interact with our digital devices in the same way that we interact with each other. For although we have been accustomed to using a mouse and keyboard, it's unnatural tools, but the best solution in the absence of better. Children who have never used a computer, can not use a mouse or a keyboard intuitively, but they can use a tablet and a smartphone using their hands.

The future will bring us closer to utilizing our natural way of communicating. Interaction with data and digital devices will be through the body's own "media" and senses, without us having to look down our mobile screen with all the dangers that can pose. We can instead look up and find a screen at the bus stop or the supermarket refrigerator, presenting the data we need in the right context, real time.

Augmented and virtual reality can create entirely new dimensions of our physical and virtual universe through smartphones, tablets, glasses or headsets as the input.

The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift will soon launch a virtual reality headset mainly targeting the gaming industry, but sooner or later it will draw new paths into the commercial world. This opens up new ways to display advertisement and how brands can invite customers into a 3D world with their message as part of the experience.

The company Blippar is one of the companies that are experimenting with creating vibrant advertisement, such as virtual football players on Pepsi cans. The solutions we encounter today remains quite primitive, but it gives a picture of what awaits us.

Imagine your next trip to IKEA with your smartphone or tablet, showing you a 3-dimensional scaled floor plan of your home. When you see the sofa or dinner table you want to buy, you drag the furniture into the "living room" to ensure it fits. Not to talk about how easy it will be to assemble the furniture with augmented reality as a 3-dimensional guide. Over time it can become an essential tool in the industries where complex elements must be assembled or repaired.

In the future most surfaces will be potential screens, from the window of your (driverless) car, your mirrors, tables, the seat in front of you in the bus, train and plane to every building and every shop window, you pass. The timing is as always difficult to predict with technology, we tend to overestimate what happens in five years and underestimate what will happen in a year.

The many technologies that will support a future of screens, are still at an early stage. But with the speed they develop, new dimensions of our off-line world will soon unfold in the virtual world and give us increased multi-functional mobility.

Our screens are and will be our digital eyes that have access to our individual data and behavior, linked with the situation we are in, whether we are trying on clothes in a shop or building a new garage. While it may still sound like science fiction, it is a very positive trend that technology and digital devices are getting better at adapting to humans and our behavior and body language, rather than what we have seen to much in the past, that we had to adapt to technology.