The future of ...

Erwin van Lun predict the long term future and blogs about developments today gradually shaping that future. Also in Dutch

Spherical screen

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This sphere is completely interactive: it responds to the heat of the hands of one or more people. It's a research project by Microsoft named Sphere.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

We get more and more screens surrounding us. Big, small, round, square, triangular, chewable, tapeable, origami proof and more silliness like that. All screens will, however, be completely interactive: respond to voice, to images, to sounds, to touch. But actually those screens only function as an interface to something else: the virtual world of brands. It’ll be the challenge to shape these in such a way that they can handle all these types of screens.

MediaZoo allows music fans to build their own system

MediaZoo is an online application that makes the user's music available from every location. The music library application is now slowly becoming complete Open Source, which means that music fans can build their own applications for the library. You can think of networking possibilities, such as profiles, message and commenting systems, or an intelligent recommendation system for songs. MediaZoo already offers a few functions, such as uploading music, but also the playing and sharing (with a limited amount of friends) of songs. The service hopes to become the largest library of rights-free music.

Users can, if desired, add their rights-free music to 'The Zoo'. A payment or donation system with which users can support musicians is another example of a possible feature that could be developed by the community. In the meantime MediaZoo Language Localisation, a subproject of the MediaZoo Open Source-project, has already started. This should make the service available in several languages.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

All brands are going through similar situations. All brands are involving their community, are experiencing a brand coming out, after which the direction won’t be with the head office, but with the people. They’ll all enter the dialogue. But brands with a symbolic function, like music brands, can also become very strong in a friends network (more so than, say, an insurance brand). This is a nice example of a brand that’s allowed to start with a clean slate and does it completely differently from the start.

Cell phone that reads from paper

k-Reader is smart software from American company K-NFB Reading for the cell phone, which makes it possible for the phone to read out text on paper. In the video you can see a demonstration (skip to 6:30). A photo of packaging, a flyer or newspaper article is read out. The k-Reader software is installed on the Nokia N82 for about 1,200 Euros.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

This innovation is characterized as an important development for blind people, but it’s in fact even more important. It reduces the necessity of literacy. Stronger still, in countries in which people can’t read this means an enormous amount of progress. Of course a lot still has to happen: the readings will become more fluent in the coming years, for example. And we won’t need to take a picture anymore, but just wave the cell phone past with the spoken question of ‘what does that say?’ and it’ll be enough. And a step after will be also if it’s written in a foreign language.

It’ll help third world economies enormously with the development of their country without people learning to read. It’ll take away the hurdle of visiting a country where you don’t speak the language. It’ll bring together people from all over the world in a different way. It starts with a useful device for the blind.

Glubble starts at the family

Glubble facilitates social contacts between a family. Every family has its own family site for photos, a shared calendar can be managed for nice and less nice activities (such as the dentist), birthdays of family members, or keep each other up-to-date about what they're doing at a specific time. Furthermore parents can limit the amount of possible websites their child could visit.

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Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Social coaching brands help with the maintenance of relationships with other people. Where in the first phase we kept phone numbers in our phone, in the second phase entered the type of relationship, this type of brand will emphasize the difference in relationships. Glubble currently emphasizes families, but when this will soon be connected to other families (for example at what time little Emily has to be home after playing with a friend), it’ll also facilitate other types of relationships. Soon we’ll be able to ‘call’ through this type of brand and the spoken intention in our conversation (‘so tonight we’ll meet at 8 pm’) be analyzed immediately, registered in the agenda to remind us of this at a quarter to eight. Not yet, but later. It’s all happening step by step.

Flying microrobots which avoid walls

The movie shows an airplame (the MC2) of 10 grams that avoids walls on its own. It's the research area of microflyers of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (LIS) of the Swiss EPFL.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

The world won’t become bigger, but much smaller. Media technology will disappear from sight; robots will replace them in time. Small airplanes will ensure that we don’t have to go back to retrieve the apple we forgot for along the way; that’s taken care of immediately. Or they can hold things in the air that we now need someone else to hold. What to think of a light-weight screen (think grams) that’s held up in the air by microflyers on a clear day? Or a flag waving without a flag pole? With a lot of things we think it normally belongs on the ground. Soon everything can happen in the air. Soon. It’ll take a year or twenty yet, but it’s coming.

You can’t punish eight-year-old yet

Eight-year-old children learn best when you reward them positively ('well done'). They're barely sensitive to negative feedback ('too bad, not good'). Twelve-year-olds react in the opposite manner. They're more sensitive to people pointing out mistakes.

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Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Small children often react intuitively, very close to nature, very strongly in the here and now. At a certain age, they’ll start to think, something that developed countries stimulate strongly. ‘Thinking’ is valued much more highly than ‘feeling’. If you feel good, you don’t want to be slowed down, but be stimulated. Doesn’t that go for everyone? But we simply can’t do everything we want to do. You can’t just eat an apple in a supermarket, walk into someone’s house or touch people. This perhaps almost automatic behavior that children still have is something we need to block with our minds. They’re the norms and values, collective thoughts that we need to feel safe in a society.

People are only limitedly able to raise children. They throw everything into it, but still they’re unsure. That’s especially the case because people today only have a few children, not even helped to raise their brothers or sisters or have had a lot of experience with previous children. These kinds of insight will lead to personal child brands to help us raise our children. They’ll literally (!) listen along to what’s happening in a dialogue with our child, in an incident for example. Facial expressions, body stance and body language will be measured through all kinds of sensors. To discuss the incident with us later, at night when the little one’s asleep. Completely automated. Before this is common practice, however, we’re talking about 2050, the time of the pamper planet.

Live recognizes friends

Through the renewed Windows Live Photo Gallery people can't just group their photos based on date or location, but also by people. They can also edit the photos. For example, you can make the photo black and white with a single click of the mouse and you can rotate the photos in any angle.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Brand will start to recognize the images around us to advertise with them. Brands that specialize in social contact between people, that facilitate with personal contact (such as (Windows) Live, a social coaching brand in the making), also recognize our friends. From their photograph, but later also by their voice, their walk or their behavior. In the long term, even better than we can recognize them ourselves. This is a step in that direction.

Google shows speech moments in video

Google has found a way to visualize search results in videos. For example, someone searching for 'Health' will receive a line under the (YouTube) video with markers when the person says the word 'health'. This is known to Google as Gaudi.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Currently Google responds to our typed query, soon we can sit behind our tv and ask ‘health’. And after that ‘When was that guy talking about health?’ And even later it’ll search for all kinds of synonyms. It goes on and on. Not just for Google, but for all brands. We’ll be able to ask such questions of all brands. Like it’s always been the most normal thing on the planet. For now we’re very busy with reaction properly to the clicking and typing of our customers, but in the meantime technology is a few steps ahead of us.

Tapeable Image Sensors: sensing tape

A research team from the University of California, Berkeley is working on the development of such small (image) sensors that they can be 'printed' unto any surface. This way a 'sensing tape' could be created, for example: a camera as duck tape so to speak. You tear off a piece, tape it onto the ceiling, your car or your forehead and you've gained a camera.

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Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Everthing will react to us, but everything can only react if everything can observe us. Developments like this add to that. In this example it’s for visible light, but it’ll become truly interesting when we can observe very simple phenomena that pass human observation. Then we can train for that and get the best out of ourselves. It’ll take a while; we’re talking about 2050, the time of Pamper Planet.

Movie you can adapt yourself

On, a recruitment site of IT company Cap Gemini, people can make their own movies with their friends in the star role. For example, I got sent this personal movie with myself in the leading role.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Currently as a photo clearly placed in this; in a few years we can give our friends a leading role in a movie without seeing the difference. We can add artificial humans that look like real people. Or animals that act like people. The virtual world will become more and more real and our brains will have increasingly more trouble separating what’s ‘real’ from what’s ‘imagined’. In this time brand agents, artificial representations of brands, that look like real people, and enter a dialogue with us the most normal thing in the world.

War Child organised Peace March in Habbo world

During the International Day of Peace, War Child Netherlands organized a virtual Peace March on the online community Habbo. The goal of the march was to make the youth stop to think about war and to call on them to support the necessity of peace. The peace march was part of the Global Peace Gathering organized by War Child and Habbo in 32 countries. Beside the Peace March Habbos could sign a Peace Petition by War Child with which they could show their support.

During the march the visitors of Habbo, the so-called Habbos, made a communal trip through different virtual rooms. They were accompanied by several youths from Uganda, which visited the online world from a refuge camp.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

The Habbo world knows no country borders, just as the whole virtual world doesn’t know them. As a result, people will act more like world citizens, starting with the smallest amongst us. This generation, which will control the world in 2050 will view other cultures completely differently from previous generations. And they’ll also rule the world differently.

Micro airplanes which transport packages

The micro airplanes (roughly 30 centimeter long) in this movie can transport small packages extremely quickly, useful for, for example, emergency transports in health care.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

It’s a part of the development of the network economy. The economy in which everything is flexible, scaleable and especially realtime. Soon we can order something from a pavement and will have it delivered within an hour. Other methods will remain cheaper, but this is much faster, so you’ll really have something.

VandaagopStap: going out today

Through VandaagOpStap (Dutch) people can look for activities and events that are happening today. With a database of over 9000 activities VandaagOpStap is the biggest outings-website of the Netherlands. People can select from 11 categories, amongst which are 'active entertainment', 'special buildings', 'day outings', 'art and culture', 'music'. Those contain about 10 subcategories. It's also possible to search using region and city. When selecting an event, the website also displays nearby restaurants.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

This is how VandaagOpStap is a coaching brand in the making, a coaching brand that entertains us outside our doors, possibly named a personal outdoor brand. That starts with completeness in the categories and VandaagOpStap is well on its way.

Furthermore it shows how the network economy is developing. We used to deal with guides, with as most extreme example the theater guides where we had to book half a year in advance. In the network economy everything happens realtime: the moment we feel like doing something, a personal outdoor brand can immediately sort all possibilities that suit our profile, only possibilities that are truly possible. Furthermore coaching brands will also take along the diaries of friends; after all you rarely go alone. Personal outdoor brands make sure that you always have something fun to do outside your doorstep. That makes the whole world more spontaneous. More fun, if you will.

MySpace watches along through webcam

Users of social network MySpace can allow the site to watch along through the webcam and publish the resulting movie immediately. The big difference is that people don't first have to save the movie and then upload it.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

Brands are beginning to understand the consumer’s remark of ‘would you look at that!’. Currently with MySpace, but soon you can show an insurance company what the damage is immediately, directly from your cell phone’; your health coaching brand can see the wound immediately after falling or the plumber can see the situation in your kitchen cupboard. Furthermore the brand can also remember this video-conference and analyze it automatically. It’s progressing step by step and MySpace is a pioneer in that area.

iTunes automatically compiles playlists

The new iTunes automatically creates playlists based on your own music collection. After selecting a number, you need to press the 'genius' button and then iTunes will automatically select similar songs. You can also give Genius the command to recommend music you don't own yet. Then you can buy those.

Future vision by Erwin Van Lun

This is how music coaching brands are brought to life. They’re specialists in all kinds of music ever created and can make recommendations. Soon iTunes will look at you literally (!), gauge your mood, and start the music. No whining about buying, but of course you do have to pay for this added value. And if you’re truly touched, iTunes will be able to recommend a concert. This is how iTunes will become a music buddy that travels everywhere with you.

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