Beyond Mobile: Where No Geek Has Gone Before

Beyond Mobile: Where No Geek Has Gone Before

Let’s take it back. Back to January 17th to be exact. That evening I had the honor of watching our advisor and friend, Josh Clark, present his famous and sought after talk on the future of mobile at the über fancy Bloomberg building in NYC. For all of you mobile junkies out there, you might already know what Josh is all about. But for the rest of you, let me paint a better picture: Josh Clark is a talented mobile designer, and developer and the author of Tapworthy, a book that can help take your app from concept to a fully-designed reality. His talk on mobile has been heard across the globe, inspiring and educating geeks world wide. The vibe is straightforward: think Star Wars and Epcot– real futuristic awesomeness. Josh takes us on an exploration of technology as a whole and where it’s going. He dives into augmented reality, mirroring, interfaces, and much more; even introducing us to stunning new innovations in technology that we might’ve never even dreamt of having in our lifetime.

Here are some of the technology topics explored in our journey:

Information Ghosts: The concept of information ghosts is pretty simple. We’re increasingly surrounded by them– they’re invisible to us but visible to our mobile devices. As the world increasingly becomes more and more geotagged, our mobile devices are able to facilitate just about anything for you when it comes to immediate proximity. Looking for a restaurant in your vicinity? That’s simple. How about an answer to a loaded question, like, “When is my next train leaving?” These ‘information ghosts’ are able to get you that information in a moment’s notice, and as a whole mobile devices let us focus in on the ghosts that matter to us most.

Augmented Reality: According to Josh, augmented reality exists to add new layers of understanding and insight by introducing new visuals to what we can’t see with our mere mortal eyes and ears. Josh continued by discussing some pretty nifty companies that are disrupting the use of augmented reality. There’s Skinvaders, a game where you can actually allow aliens to invade your skin (you know, if that’s your thing), and then there’s World Lens (a traveler’s best friend) which is an app that uses computer vision and optical character recognition to translate text in real time from one language to another — no internet connection needed. There’s Layar (who we absolutely love, by the way); what began as an augmented reality browser has reinvented itself as a product for editorial, or what they call “interactive print.” Needless to say, augmented reality is quickly becoming one of the most cutting edge innovations of our time.

Sensors give us superpowers: Josh then brings us to the topic of sensors; we are superheros thanks to them. Yes, our phones and tablets hold a whole lot of info, but it’s because of sensors that we get rich insight to the info at hand. Take, for instance, GPS,  light, touch, compass, etc.; these devices can do more than your desktop…way more.

Custom sensors are an extension of that: think Square, and Proteus (a digital health feedback system that is powered by you). As sensors become more advanced, there’s more that we can do with our data/content.

Mirroring, aka “screen sharing”: Much like Airplay (an app that lets you send what’s on your Mac screen to an HDTV wirelessly with Apple TV) mirroring symbolizes technology that’s making your content social. It shares and displays it on “dumb devices” such as your TV.

Remote Control: But how do we keep all of our devices from driving us crazy? Now, more than ever, it seems as if we have a handful of smart devices that can control all the dumb devices in our lives such as Cloud and Google Drive. But looking even beyond that are devices such as Metalstorm Wingman; an app that allows you to use your iPad to fly your plane on the TV.

Ecosystems: Then there’s Microsoft’s Surface; their first-ever hardware computer. Josh taps into the idea that it’s not enough to have a software product. This is why Google bought Motorola, and Amazon has Kindle, and perhaps we’ll see a Microsoft + Nokia acquisition. He believes (and I agree) that it’s not enough to have a service– it’s not enough to have software, and it’s certainly not enough to have hardware. Real innovation exists when there’s all three.

Migrating Interfaces: What is this, you might ask? Think about your bluetooth. You get into your car and you get a phone call; your phone starts ringing and you can talk, all the while never taking your eyes off the road. Then the car stops, you get out and you can talk on your phone again. This back-and-forth migrating from one device to another is what you call “migrating interfaces.”Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 4.32.21 PM

Passive Interfaces: These are devices that are smart enough to grab software when they need it. They’re machines that do their work and talk to one another without needing us to intervene. The Nest Thermostat; powered by wifi, knows your home’s humidity, and even the temperature outside. What is traditionally called a dumb device it is, in fact, fully loaded and in constant communication.

Dumb Devices:  Remember the infamous clapper? Well the idea behind that “dumb device” is now brilliant. Companies like Hue are creating wifi-enabled lightbulbs that you can turn control via web or app. But what about our credit cards? Visa and Mastercard both have unveiled credit cards with screens and keyboards in Europe in 2010. But how does this attribute to the web? Are they equipped to provide the same security like those we feel we get in-store transactions? Designers now need to be conscious of what the future holds; be future-proof.

Letting Robots do the work: Guardian’s iPad app is a good example of “letting robots do the work.” By automating their content, the robots reads scripts & original indesign files where the print issue was designed. It also reads the size & placement of each article and encodes that into metadata of the content API. The robots then use this data for editorial priority, allowing them to make decisions for how to place the articles in the app.

A cloud of social devices: Which brings Josh to the most important element of mobile design: How do we have a set of truly social devices that are accessible to us when we need them, and out of the way when we don’t but that are still doing our work? His suggestion is simple (or so he makes it seem) You take all these trends, sensors, mirroring, remote control, migrating control, and passive interfaces, and do more than just build an app. You build a service.

Check out a little sneak peek into Josh’s talk here.

With so much incredible innovation out there, it’s really remarkable to even grasp the concept of things becoming even more innovative. Josh’s talk opened my eyes up to the astounding world of mobile design, and not just that, but the cutting edge technologies that are just emerging. The fashion tech space, while big in our eyes, is still small and so often we’re locked in to what’s happening in our little world that we forget to look beyond that. Having seen so much in the fashion tech space already, I’m incredibly optimistic about seeing more and more technologies being embraced by the fashion industry. If this is not an indicator that more exciting applications and platforms are heading our way, then I don’t know what is. Prepare for an astounding future — a future of REAL technology in fashion.

Cyndi Ramirez is Third Wave Fashion’s Brand & Business Development Manager. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave.  Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.

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