Our expectations have changed. Our information requirements have changed. The web started it, we adopted it, but now we have an insatiable appetite for information. We want knowledge, advice, guidance, facts and we want it right now. We want the ability to engage with a product, a destination, an adventure, a sport or anything else that we are interested in. Armed with smart phones, cameras, scanners, QR codes and the like, we are fully empowered to become intimately familiar with just about any object in the world in real time.
After a decade of near-obsessive Googling, instant access to information with the right (textual) input is now expected, a way of life. The next frontier is visual info-gratification: consumers accessing information about objects encountered in the real world, in more natural ways and while on-the-go, simply by pointing their smartphones at anything interesting. And just as ‘going online’ is no longer limited to sitting in front of a computer, discovery will no longer be tied to text search. People will be able to immediately find out about (and potentially buy) anything they see or hear, even if they don’t know what it is or can’t describe it in words.
Here are some of the possibilities of visual information. How about if you just pointed your phone at the location and the following happened:
- Apple Store – When was it built, what is the glass made from, did Steve Jobs ever visit the store, how many iPads have been sold from this store, what are the store’s hours, make an appointment at the genius bar, what is on sale today, what is on sale in the next 30 minutes, what’s new on iTunes
- Sak’s Fifth Avenue – What designer scarfs are carried in the store, when was the building constructed, who owns Saks, what other companies are in the building, what was there before Saks, what is on sale
- St. Patrick‘s – Mass times displayed, history of the church was presented, who was married in the church, what are the church dimensions, what type of marble was used, how high are the spires, how many candles, what is the seating capacity etc.
Just point and know. A guided tour on history, products, sales or anything else that is important to you. Your choice of course, on your phone or tablet, available whenever you want it. Now that is just so cool!
Here are some examples of applications that are providing this type of insight right now:
- Shazam – listens to any song or commercial and identifies it for you immediately – Name of song, artist, etc.
- Skin Scan – is an app which allows users to scan and monitor moles over time, with the aim of preventing malignant skin cancers. The app tells users if a visit to their doctor or dermatologist is advisable.
- Star Chart – enables users to point their phones at the sky to discover details about the objects or constellations they look at
The days of using text as your primary search tool are coming to an end. Still a ways to go, but the future is about images 🙂
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