With the recent headlines about Apple patenting the iWatch brand in countries around the world, it is becoming an intriguing question: what will be the inspiration behind the latest ‘must have’ shiny thing?
As the UK heatwave continues, temperatures are driving efficiency: people will walk the shortest route, carry the lightest load and wear the most comfortable clothing possible. Bags and purses that used to contain additional tops, assorted ironmongery and very small churches are being cast aside as their owners look to shed unwanted burdens.
In many ways, the changing of a parameter such as temperature can provide a microcosm of society and whilst phone companies are always bragging about shaving 0.5g off their latest smartphone, the fact remains that carrying increasingly large-screen mobiles around is a drag.
The latest trend for tech is to adapt devices many of us wear on a daily basis to include additional functionality – glasses with mini display screens, watches that make phone calls – and when you think about it, it’s one that makes sense. Far better to augment what you have than create an additional device purely for one function only, there’s a reason we don’t have separate scanners, printers, fax machines and car phones any more.
Integrating software into existing products is not a revolutionary idea, but not everyone is aware of how far we have come and just how much is possible with what we already have. QR codes were originally developed by Toyota for spare part stock control and in Japan it’s possible to shop at a virtual supermarket by scanning QR codes whilst you wait for a train. Your groceries arrive at your door at the same time as you. Car companies are also a key force behind augmented reality apps, downloads for your smartphone or tablet that overlay information on the camera screen to enhance or explain what you’re looking at. Audi have one that allows users to pick a spot on your floor or driveway and instantly project any model in any colour right there on your screen. Think horror movies where the hero can see the ghosts looking through the camcorder screen but not with the naked eye.
It’s not just a bit of Photoshop trickery though, these models are in full 3D, allowing you to walk around your potential new car and check it out from all angles. Then you can click on one of the doors, which will open up so you can get inside and see how it looks from behind the wheel.
Of course it’s always nice to see something in the flesh, I still love proper bookshops where you can feel pages on your fingers, but I buy most of my books from Amazon because of the convenience. Augmented reality is the same, as will be the next generation of smart devices. Convenience and efficiency are the driving influence behind the majority of our inventions, as well as being cool to use. And in this weather being cool is what everyone is thinking about.