Intel starts a technology blog in Chinese (rb). The globalization continues. In a few hundred years English, Spanish and Chinese will be the most important languages, and again a few hundred years later we end up with a mixture of all of these. Recognizing Chinese as an important world language is a small step in that direction.
The new Nokia E90 can read 2 dimensional, QR (Quick Recognition) bar codes. In this video clip the code on a business card is photographed, and the contact details are stored directly in the phone (mc, Dutch). In the future, every product will have a code with a URL which directly leads to the web site of the brand. Now through QR codes, later through RFID. It all becomes simpler. The product loses its anonymity and becomes the topic of conversation between brand and consumer. This is a small step in that direction.
Entertainment and movie brand MrMovie is now available through the mobile phone (mc, Dutch). He or she who wants to see the latest film news, see listings or find upcoming movies, can visit MrMovie’s mobile pages. If in the future everybody has Messenger on their phones, we automatically connect to MrMovie’s chat bot from the restaurant we’re at, find what top movie they show in the neighboring cinema, and reserve directly. Then we finish our espresso and walk to the cinema. This is a small step in that direction.
Handyman site Werkspot asks customers, handymen, and home improvement stores to help them grow, by making them Werkspot Agents. Handymen can earn 25 euro by signing up another company or handyman, a store can place a special Werkspot display, and customers get the chance to earn a free subscription to a home improvement magazine. Besides, at the homepage a suggestion box is put in a prominent place. Brands involve consumers. The line between employees and consumers gets thinner. In the future, people together form the brand. This is an example of developments in that direction.
Telefoongids.nl recently has started its beta version of its own chat bot, named Finnu. Who adds firstname.lastname@example.org to his contact list in Windows Live Messenger (still consequently called by its old name, MSN Messenger) can search for companies, services and people in a typed dialogue, and call them in one click. Telefoongids is the first guidebook in the Netherlands working with a chat bot (tc, Dutch). Brands have more and more dialogues with their customers. Now through a typed dialogue on the computer, more and more often through Instant Messaging on the mobile phone, and after that we will be able to talk to Finnu. If Telefoongids becomes a social coaching brand we will say: “Finnu…” “Hi Erwin!”; “call John for me please”; and John will be called. No matter if John is on our contact list, or has to be found somewhere else: that doesn’t matter to the consumer. As long as he gets called. This is a small step in that direction.
At Robocup 2006 there were soccer playing robots, expressing human gestures. When they scored for example, they went down on their knees, put their arms up in the air, or turned around in circles. We try to imitate human life more and more. In text, in sound, in image and also in the physical world we find human equivalents. Earlier or later humanoids, robots looking like people, will be important members of the brand culture. They will be direct colleagues of the brand agents, their virtual colleagues. And oh yes, there will also be real human beings working for the brand. These clumsy looking experiments form a small step in that direction.
Video sharing site YouTube can now also be entered through mobile phones. At m.youtube.com a special menu is available (mc, Dutch). All brands automatically adapt their communication with the consumer to the size of the display. The information we can see on this small display will later be in line with our personal profile: what did our friends (or friends of friends) watch? If we then want to see a bigger image, we just have to keep our mobile phone close to a bigger display and transfer it with our fingers, and a real full-screen experience can start. Interactive, if we want. This is a small step in that direction.
Logitech introduces a remote control that not only controls appliances, but also reacts to our fingers. The device can operate all our audio and video appliances through a wireless extender, a machine that enables infra red rays to be sent from different rooms. This way we slowly get used to interactive displays in our living room. The next question will be why we can’t select our music collection directly on this display. For lots of people this is still the next step, but it is already available.
Rabo Mobiel, the mobile division of Rabobank, has her virtual employee Lisa advise consumers what phone to choose. Lisa welcomes you in spoken language, and asks what you are looking for. Then the website user gets a menu of choices he or she can click on. Lisa then continues in spoken language. This way brand agents slowly evolve. Now still on a sub page, later prominently on the home page. Now just through the computer screen, in the future through the mobile phone, TV, TomTom, e-paper and every other possible display still to be developed. Now still in textual surroundings, but in the future we will see Lisa in a RaboMobiel specific surroundings. This way the dialogue slowly comes to life. This is a small step in that direction.
The amount of internet users in Brasil rises from 9% (17.5 million people) in 2005 to 22% (43.7 million) in 2011 (dc, Dutch). Around 2025 every human being in the world will be connected. From young to old. This will have much more impact than we think now. In the end we will have an understanding world. But that will then take at least another generation. A subject I will definitely write about in my next book.
Video portal Blinkx identifies language in its videos. Then advertisers (brands that still want to ‘shout’ ) can buy words or categories comparable to the Google AdSense program (mb, Dutch). Now Blinkx identifies language, in the future it will also recognize objects in videos. If we then see a handy tool, a special pair of jeans or fancy sun glasses, we can react to those immediately. Also through (our) spoken language. Every brand that supplies us with (interactive) video material will know exactly what there is to hear or to see, and can help us handling our next questions. Then it is not about advertising any more (giving suggestions when the consumer didn’t ask for them), but about answering the consumers’ questions. This is a small step in that direction.
At Udoo consumers can now design their own avatar, and show it on their mobile phone. Avatars are like the voice mail of the 21st century: they are electronic versions of ourselves. Like the tape on the answering machine, or the Out-Of-Office message in our mail program. We can let these smart avatars handle contacts with other people in our name. In the end they become so real, that for other people it feels like they have had real contact with you. Now they still look as characters, in the future they will really look like people. And the fun part is: we see a mirror image of ourselves in the avatar, only just a little fancier, a little smarter, a little more fun. When we communicate with this ‘mirror’, our avatar learns our way of speaking, our gestures, and our facial expressions. And our avatar this way can better and better represent us in the virtual world. This is a small step in that direction.
Online community MySpace now has its own (beta) version of Messenger (Instant Messaging). Earlier MySpace had a web version, and it looks like they keep developing this (dc, Dutch). This way social coaching brands evolve. Social coaching brands facilitate mutual contact between people, irrespective of through what display. They recognize you instantly, know in what dialogues you are involved with which friends, know who are your good friends and who are not. And they bring the contact to a higher level. It starts with facilitating contact in different ways. First a synchronized through pages, then through Messenger. And in the end we will also have live text, audio calling, and video connections through social coaching brands. This is a small step in that direction.
YouTube is going to internationalize. Local sites for Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, the UK and the Netherlands will be created. In a first phase every local site will be translated and given a local start page and search function. Afterwards every site will be given a 'local' user experience that makes it possible to have, amongst others, country-specific rankings and commentaries. Brands are entering an (automated) dialogue. To start with by speaking the consumer's language, then by taking over the consumer's specific idiom and later even their accent in pronunciation. With that brands will become a full conversational partner. This is a small step in that direction.
The new Dutch TV-quiz Stop de tijd (“Stop the time”) brings emigrated Dutch people back to the Netherlands in the fifties, sixties and seventies. In this nostalgic quiz from broadcasters MAX and Wereldomroep Dutch emigrants who have left the country more than 25 years ago play against each other (via bm, Dutch). In the future, people will stay connected forever. They link to each other already at a very young age, and will be able to find one another for the rest of their lives, just with the click of the mouse. To relive past memories, or to get together again. At the moment people are using the possibilities to find old friends again through MySpace, LinkedIn or Messenger. Once found, they will stay in our friends lists forever. And we relive memories, never recorded like we do nowadays, by talking about them together. And TV has always been an important topic. This TV-program and this site contribute to that. This way the nostalgic human
is made happy.