One of the most important inventions in history of the web has to be the humble hyperlink, not only does it dress the bonds between the disparate properties floating in space, it affords the ability to take very long strings of information and hide them behind simple text or imagery. Meta incarnate. For example:
It gets interesting when you take these on web principles and apply them to the real world, whereby an object becomes capable of containing meta data and physical artefacts become links to virtual properties. The access points to the web in this instance are not through connected platforms, but more so connected through the things that surround us. books, pens and teacups.
QR codes in some ways are the most basic manifestation of this, in that by placing a code readable by web enabled devices on objects, the object itself takes on the properties of a link and by scanning it with a reader you will be take to predetermined destination. A destination that bears relevancy to the object itself and contains information that it, in its physical manifestation cannot provide.
In essence it gives context, objects have meaning overlayed and hidden behind them. They can form part of stories or become stories themselves.
Google Goggles hides search queries behind objects, augmented reality overlays imagery and information over them. Both serve to create a wider pool of information for the object to live within.
Becomes more interesting when the information becomes social – I took a photo of a kettle and it took me to its Facebook page, I’m now aware that it has a personality and I feel empathethic to its need, I will never overfill it again.
And then what happens when these objects are able to connect themselves? – I place mug in front of kettle and kettle boils. They understand each others contexts and become empathetic to one another’s needs. Kettle knows that when cup is in proximity that equals boiling, because cup has said I’m a vessel that carries boiling water.
From a consumer perspective will this drive an expectation of unbridled connectivity with the expectations of the web placed on the world beyond the web? Probably, but based on uptake of QR, image and objection recoginition and gesture reading based interfaces, probably not for a while.
I guess in its simplest form it’s making real things clickable.