For the last 40 years, the media has promised us a life assisted by computers. I long for the Star Trek days where the computer patiently awaits my every command and, when I need something, it’s just available.
Well, folks, I think we’re almost there. Follow me to fantasy land for a moment:
- The Dream: I want to buy an Acme DooDad™ Pro 2000 Express Chair, but I am not exactly sure how it’ll fit in my home/office/building/factory. I wish I could have it here without buying it and then returning it.
- The Reality: IKEA incorporated augmented reality into their 2012 catalog. Using a special app, choose an item and a cutout version of it in the color you desire pops up on the screen with your camera activated. You then “place” the chair into the image and imagine it there. Color and all. Share with friends. Bam! Save the universe.
The Dream: I just landed in downtown Anytown, USA, and I am looking for a good restaurant that is paces away. I wish I could see farther than one block in either direction.
- The Reality: The Yelp mobile app includes Monocle, an augmented food snooper. It detects your location and, in conjunction with your camera looking down the street or through buildings, pops up a restaurant within walking distance. You’ll know where it is, what kind of food they serve and how many stars their users give it. Pow! Save the day.
The Dream: What do you give to a client that has everything? Oh! I know! I tree with gifts!!!
- The Reality: If you didn’t see it, our holiday card made a big splash this year. After downloading a free app, you point the camera to our 4×6 postcard and “Voila!” a tree and gifts pops up to delight and surprise you. Boom! Save the season.
The technology is here. So what’s holding it up from being mainstream? Ease of access and use. And for that, Google might have the answer in Project Glass. Google aims to deliver, via a head-mounted display, an augmented experience that is integrated into our existence (translate: without the need for a phone or an app). And they’ve just made the hardware available to a bunch of developers and are supporting it with a multi-day conference. Could it mean that we can all be Tom Cruise in Minority Report someday? Oh yes.
So my son, 16 years old, says to me the other day: “I don’t like having a Facebook page. It keeps everyone at arm’s length. And you might say things you can’t take back…ever.”
Instead of allowing my imagination to run rampant with worry over what he could possibly be referencing in that latter part, I thought instead of that first part–being kept at arm’s length. The question that came up was:
Just what does social media do for our personal and business relationships? And what doesn’t it do?
In a nutshell, it helps us make great personal connections. We can find old friends we lost track of. Upload the pic of the “gourmet” food we made for dinner. Brag about our seriously gifted children. And secretly analyze pictures of our ex-boyfriend’s wives…or so I hear.
When it comes to our role as consumers, we can support our favorite brands by being their ambassadors with ardent ‘likes’ and passionate testimonials.
And as brands, we can reach our consumer base in a playful and interactive way. We can reward them with coupons and incent them with contests and give them more information and hard-driving content than their human hard drives can possibly hold.
But at the end of the day it will never replace a handshake from a business associate or a hug from a friend. And apparently this POV is crystallizing with some pretty savvy MIT inventors.
Say hello to the “Like-A-Hug” Facebook-connected vest. Yup–you can get a squeeze from anyone who likes something you’ve put on your page. Check it out:
So in an age when everything is at once deeply social, yet completely bereft of a real human connection, there’s finally a way to bridge that virtual/physical gap.
My Phase 2 suggestion for these MIT kids? Hugs that differentiate between a good friend and creepy Facebook stalker guy.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has declared the 2012 Olympics held in London the “social games” whereby spectators, fans, families, friends and teammates can participate through social media, texting, blogs and good old-fashioned email.
Get your smartphone, tablet and laptop fully charged and get ready for an onslaught of following, liking and sharing of athletes you likely don’t know along with their international fans of every language.
No more remote on my lap; there’s no room! I will have too many e-comm devices buzzing and blinking on my lap and vying for my attention to watch the actual sport itself. The IOC has taken social media participation very seriously by establishing IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines.
How interesting you make these Olympics Games depends on your satisfaction level of how deep you want to immerse yourself into the social media aspect of watching sports. NBC Sports network and the official NBC Olympics websites have their own Facebook and Twitter feeds. TEAM USA really goes the distance with a micro site for news, photos, videos and links to the Facebook page and Twitterfeed for every one of the 38 sports TEAM USA is participating in, even Field Hockey. (I will be following @USSailing Team).
And if that doesn’t keep you busy, many of the renown participating athletes as well as former Olympian medal winners will be tweeting. By the time these games are over, you will be as exhausted and euphoric as the athletes themselves.
Here’s a partial list to get you started:
NBC Network @NBCOlympics
TEAM USA: @USOlympic
TEAM USA US Sailing: @USSailing Team (Other sports are patterned similarly. Visit their website to find team pages and Twitter handles.)
It took great insight, drive, effort and insistence across geo-political borders by the IOC to create a social media mandate like this. No doubt, the driving force was to deepen the level of engagement with these games by enhancing the spectator experience.
By now, you are probably hundreds of pages into one of the recommendations made in my last blog post. But in case you are still looking for more, today’s post is dedicated to books that are on my must-read list and are scheduled to be downloaded to my iPad soon.
1. My Blood by Ellen Ullman. Set in the radical 1970′s fallout from the prior decades’ “free love” society, this story takes eavesdropping to a whole new level. The journey begins with a disgraced professor who takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. The walls are thin, and he’s distracted by voices from next door— his neighbor is a psychologist, and one of her patients dislikes the hum of the white-noise machine. And so he begins to truly hear: the patient’s troubles with her female lover, her conflicts with her adoptive, avowedly WASP family and her quest to track down her birth mother.
2. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. History made sexy is irresistible. In the first of this series, 16th century England is depicted as a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Yet Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe oppose him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. What price will he pay for Anne’s head?
3. Once Upon a River by Bonnie Campbell. American literature has always had a love affair with loners living off the land. But what makes this story memorable is that the individual surviving in extreme and extraordinary circumstances is our heroine.
4. Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. Okay, this pick will have to be a late summer read as it doesn’t debut until September. But it’s worth the wait. Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off. Its five interrelated families —American, German, Russian, English, Welsh— enter a time of enormous social, political and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.
If there are any fellow bookworms reading, I’d love to hear if you’ve already read any of these picks. It could help me prioritize my choices.
It’s appropriate that warm weather came early this year, as you’ll need the head start if you’re thinking about reading some of these books. Without further ado, here is a list of recommendations I believe are worth adding to your summer list:
1. A Song of Ice and Fire, a fantasy series by George Martin. Starting with The Game of Thrones, it took me all winter to read the five volumes that comprise this masterpiece. And while it seems like an unachievable commitment now, once you start —believe me when I say— you’ll be hooked. The characters are the best thing about this series. As hundreds of them scheme and fight over a mythical, medieval kingdom, the complexities of their interactions, motivations and behavior are rich, raw and a rare find in today’s contemporary literary landscape. You’ll love. You’ll hate. I guarantee you’ll even gasp in horror. So, be forewarned! Because Martin is not afraid of killing anyone.
2. Starters by Lissa Price. I’ve been an “out of the closet” young adult reader for years. In fact, it’s now my favorite summer genre, purely for the easy read and entertainment factors. It started with Twilight moved to the Hunger Games and now the saga continues. At the start of this imaginative series, Price places us in a post apocalyptic world where teenagers rent their bodies to senior citizens looking to recapture their youth. Danger ensues, not to mention envy as well.
3. A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II by Richard Snow. The struggle to control the Atlantic Ocean isn’t the first conflict that comes to mind when reviewing the events of World War II. However, this book presents all the danger and drama while detailing many amazing facts, including those regarding Churchill and FDR’s first meeting. It reads more like a historical novel than a history book and personalizes the conflicts in a way that has you questioning how we were able to overcome such insurmountable obstacles to emerge victors. In one word? Harrowing.
4. 11/23/63 by Stephen King. This reimagining of the Kennedy assassination is captivating. Like any King novel, it requires the kooky ability to suspend reality in order to create the possibility of a different outcome. But it’s the journey, not the destination that makes this book such a wonderful read. Along the way, you learn more about Lee Harvey Oswald than you ever thought possible. But perhaps more importantly, you unexpectedly discover the beauty of ordinary people falling deeply and honestly in love – all whilst accomplishing the extraordinary.
In my next post, I’ll tell the choices that are on my summer reading list. Until then, enjoy the earlyand hot start to summer burning through these page turners!
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