At the end of last year, Forbes magazine asked frog to help them envision the future in 2020. In December, we held a workshop in San Francisco that brought designers, futurists and journalists together to think about the current state of computing, how we might experience it 10 years from now and, perhaps most importantly, how we might make the transition into these possible futures.
The day-long event led to an extensive online feature: “Your Life in 2020,” a collection of illustrated concepts and videos that envision the future of ubiquitous computing. In that future, your computer is not only incorporated into every aspect of your life but is a part of you. With this in mind, we imagined how future technology would influence the key areas of Social, Travel, Commerce, Healthcare, and Media. Here's what we came up with.
Our Second Brain or "ThingBook"
In the future nearly every visible thing will be cataloged and indexed, ready to be instantly identified and described to us. Want to go shopping? In the future we won't need big retail stores with aisles of objects on display. We'll be able to shop out in the world (see image, above). Do you like that new car you saw drive by? Or those cool shoes on the woman sitting across the room? All you’ll have to do is look at it and your mobile handset or AR-equipped eyeglasses will identify the object and look up the best price and retailer.
Like Google for our bodies, future technologies will allow us to monitor our body's vital conditions and compute the outcome of our actions on-the-fly. So you'll know right away what it's going to take to work off that Burger and Coke.
Curious about the future of social networking? Whuffie is a conceptual social Metric based on what others think of you. In the future this Metric might actually be usable as real money. Why not? Celebrities are used to getting things for free based on their popularity. This is the same idea taken to its democratic extreme. Socializing will take on completely new dimensions when we can see everything public about a person right as we are talking with them. Think dating is difficult today? Imagine the hoops we'll have to jump through when everyone in the bar can see your complete dating history the minute you walk into the room.
The term “whuffie,” by the way, is a word coined by author Cory Doctorow in his book Down And Out In the Magic Kingdom. It refers to the measurement of respect or karma a person gains or looses in their lives. In Doctorow’s future, humans have implants in their brains that visually project their whuffie, which has replaced money as currency.
Sam is the director of publishing for frog where he oversees frog's global content, editorial, and digital publishing strategy. He is also the editor of design mind, frog's print and online media platform. Sam is the author of numerous books of non fiction and has written for Dwell, Metropolis, GOOD, and other magazines.