The Digital Reality

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Do you really think that Google Glass is a flop? I don’t.

Google Glass did – and will do – what it was intended for. Now, before I go on, let me explain: Google probably hoped (assumed) that more and more would find these glasses cool, interesting and worth it to wear. From a fashion standpoint, it flopped. Without question. Still, it pushed a notion forward, and this notion was no different than the early cell phone manufacturers, who believed that individuals would walk around and talk on phones wherever they may be. We have a bad sense of history when it comes to these things, but it wasn’t too long ago that someone talking on their phone in a restaurant was seen as being rude (or even when the phone rang). Now, when we see someone sitting alone and not talking on a phone or staring at a screen, we wonder if they’re “normal.” From that perspective, Google’s thinking that consumers might be ready to wear that kind of technology on their faces wasn’t so far fetched. Apple is banking that by the end of this month, we’ll be willing to leap from our pockets to our wrists. Maybe the wrist will be more acceptable/accessible to our culture – at this point in time – than the eyes. We’re about to find to find.

What both glasses and watches are pointing us to.

Whether it’s a glass or a watch, these are intermediary technologies. They are technologies that we will use – in the meantime and as a bridge – to advance us to the real end-state. Looking out into the not-too-distant future, it is apparent that we entering into the One Screen World. Where screens are everywhere, they’re connected and they are ubiquitous. All of our devices will be connected. To one another… to the Internet and some will soon become an Internet unto themselves. These appliances, devices and technologies will be talking… To one another. To us. To businesses. To marketers. Still, these smartphones, these glasses, these watches, these appliances, these tablets, these laptops, these screens still display their information on to a physical surface (glass, plastics and what have you). At the TED conference (this year and the last one), I’ve had the opportunity to play with two technologies that fall under the nomenclature of “augmented reality” and “virtual reality.” While definitions vary from pundit to pundit, I like to think of augmented reality as technology that enhances the physical environment around us. Virtual reality places the consumer into an all encompassing world that could not exist (or doesn’t exist) in our physical world. It’s hard for the average bear to wrap themselves around what this mean. The mass consumer thinks of augmented reality and virtual reality in terms of videos games, demos at toy stores or rides at a thrill park. In attending these past two TEDs and participating in demonstrations, it is becoming abundantly clear, that both augmented reality and virtual reality are primed to be the true convergence of our digital and physical reality.

A true convergence. 

In following the tech space, the past little while has seen a burst in articles about Magic Leap. It was first announced that Google was pumping $500 million into this startup that was attempting to develop a new way for users to interact with technology. A lot of the speculation was around Magic Leap’s development of the new web browser or the mouse of the future. Definitions that sounded ambiguous, ambitious and in line with Google’s desire to go after these kind of “moon shots” (like self-driving cars, and the like). Magic Leap was supposed to unveil the first demo of their technology at the TED event (which happened earlier in the month). They pulled out at the last minute. A few days later, they did release the video below. So, Google has Magic Leap, while Facebook bought Oculus VR. Two titans trying – desperately – to figure out how consumers will interact with information. It’s something we all need to be paying a lot more attention to.

Thinking about this digital reality. 

Perhaps, the notion of the One Screen World is already feeling aged. Perhaps, what we’re seeing is the inevitable digital reality. A place where information and interaction is simply projected or embedded everywhere. We don’t need any screen to access information. We don’t need any technology physically on us, because it is (somehow) embedded in everything. It’s easy to think that this is very far off. It becomes strikingly closer to home after you watch the Magic Leap demo below. Yes, for the next short while, we’re going to be fumbling through our pockets or looking at our wrists for information, but it won’t be long until our environment really is showing us things that we never imagined it would. It will be speaking to us… as we want to be spoken to. In the short-term, it still speaks volumes to the challenges of business today. The need for leaders to become digital leaders is still paramount. The need for these digital leaders to transform their business, develop new digital products and/or services, and to understand the many new and nuanced channels of distribution is now. The brand’s need to leverage data and automation to improve results and trigger more functional outcomes is now. Watch the video below, and tell me that your mind is not running wild with the exciting opportunities we will have to connect our brands in more powerful ways to these types of consumers.

It is a new digital reality, isn’t it?