QR Codes and the future of technology

10 Nov
tangled technology by stuart63

Photo credit to stuart63

Or, Futurist Ramblings and a Terrible Novel Idea

I’m still working on those QR codes, so I’m still puzzling about squiggly, little boxes and what they mean for the future.  My puzzling’s been taken even further thanks to Mashable’s contest: What Will the Next 40 Years of Technology Bring?  Mashable’s giving away a shiny new laptop to the person that can come up with the best answer, and as my laptop’s been threatening an unstable hard drive of late, I’d really like to win.  (Also, I just like winning.)

I’m not a futurist, although I’d like to be.  (Best business card title ever.)  So, here’s my answer, where I think we’ll be in 40 years:

Identity by fotologic

Photo credit to fotologic

In 40 years, we’ll have a virtual layer on top of the real world that will be with us wherever we go. QR codes and location-based networks are just the beginning. First we’ll have screens that we can point at codes (although hopefully they’ll be better looking than the current black and white jumbles) and then we’ll have glasses (which we’ll wear all the time) that will allow us to see the virtual layer all around us. After that, we’ll move to contact lenses that are in all the time, so that the virtual layer will always be part of what we see. That lenses will allow us to see cont

ent (largely ad-based) that will be layered on top of everything. It’ll be customized to who we are personally and our preferences and interests. Targeted marketing will no longer be confined to a screen, but will be everywhere and on everything. We’ll see each see our own subjective virtual layer, full of feeds to which we subscribe, and ads which we’ll all (still) be trying our best to avoid.

Inspector GadgetMaybe I have been thinking about QR codes and real world/digital integration too much, but I really do see a future where we’re all the bionic man.  (Go go gadget lenses!)  I’m expecting a world where the virtual becomes Real (yes, that’s Velveteen Rabbit Real with a capital R), and I really don’t think it’s too out there.

billboard by hans s

Photo credit to hans s

The part that (maybe) is out there, is that our virtual worlds will be subjective.  But think about.  In the future, everything will be digital.  No one will need to climb up a giant pole to change a billboard; the billboard will change because the computer controlling it tells it to.  (Yes, this is already happening.)  But currently, because the billboard is displaying an image, it’s the same for every person.  (We’re just going to ignore any ideas of subjective reality here.)  But, what if that billboard could be different for everyone who saw it?  What if a family drove by in a car, and everyone saw something different.  Mom saw an ad for a spa, Dad saw one for a golf course, the teenager saw one for a hiking trail, and the younger brother saw one for an arcade – the ad space was all purchased by the same company (say a resort), but everyone saw just what the company wanted them to see.  Because they’re not seeing with their eyes, they’re seeing with the code readers embedded in their lenses.

the ghosts in the machine by MelvinSchlubman

Photo credit to MelvinSchlubman

As I work on building hundreds of QR codes, I’m realizing that we’re already seeing different phones “read” codes differently.  So, I’ll build a bunch of them and then my colleagues and I each scan them and compare the results.  In this case, the goal is that we find a code that’s readable and shows up the same on iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry.  But, what if the goal was to make a code that showed up differently on each device, or for each person? 

Spy-Shot-6 Movie-2007 Real-Gear-Robots Transformers 012 by rominuspower

Phtoto credit to rominuspower

Maybe I’m going crazy, or I’ve been spending too much time living inside my head recently, but I’m envisioning a future where the world around us is subjective.  When you and I can stand next to each other and read the same sign and see different things.  When we sit down at a restaurant and open the menus and each see different offerings (or at least offerings presented differently).  Because your profile will know that you’re on a diet, and mine will know that I don’t eat spicy food, and we’ll “see” the parts of the menu that will most appeal to each of us.  I picture standing next to someone on a sidewalk, pointing to an ad for a movie, and saying, “Do you want to go?”  And when we get there, my friend is disappointed, because he had seen an ad for Robot Cars in 3D and thought that’s what I wanted to see, but really he’d just agreed to go to Happily Ever After with Babies, the movie that I’d seen in the ad.

And, (here’s how I know I’m spending too much time in my head) I’m envisioning an adventure story that takes place in this world.  It’s The Giver meets The Matrix with a little Farenheit 451 thrown in.  It’s about people struggling to make their world objective again and the privacy and integrity of individuals in a society overrun by consumerism and technology.  And it will be awful, but I want to write it.  (Who says you should struggle to write the Great American Novel?  Schlocky works of sci-fi are way more fun.)

qr-code-barcode-example-etsHere’s my (first draft of a) first paragraph:

Before the codes, things said what they said, or so Jonah had heard.  As impossible as it was to believe, signs, books, letters, they all only said one thing – forever.  They didn’t change depending on the weather, or the time of day, or who looked at them.  Words were like walls, stable, and that seemed awfully inefficient.

It’s gonna be big.  (And by that I mean the ebook will sell for 99 cents on Amazon.)  So, get ready.

Questions of the day: What are your pseudo-futurist ramblings?  Also, subjective reality: am I crazy or is it coming?  Oh, and do you want to read my (possibly terrible) sci-fi book?


MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (that’s such a lie, maybe once or twice a week) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of tech, culture, or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

3 Responses to “QR Codes and the future of technology”

  1. matthewhyde November 11, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    I can imagine subjective reality coming to a degree, but I wonder if it’ll run into significant resistance before it takes hold to the extent that you describe. Shared experience is important in building community, heck, in building communication. If things get *too* subjective, things might get messy…

    But then maybe we’re closer than we think – after all, we mediate experience through technology already. I was at Niagara Falls last year, and I was standing on the deck of the Maid of the Mist, hood done and getting my hair wet. A lot of other people were covered up and watching it through their iPhones or whatever. And while I get the idea of recording something for prosterity, there’s something lacking in it, something that’s no substitute for experience. Do we really want to look at Niagara Falls and have it overlaid by ads?

  2. JSD November 11, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    It all seems so ‘un-human’ to me. I can’t even imagine it and am glad I’ll be long gone by then. Life is getting way too complicated with all the new technologies, and people are no longer stopping to smell the roses…the ‘real’ can never be replaced by the virtual. It’s just not the same and never will be.

  3. hswinson December 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Hello, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Check out the specs here: http://bit.ly/tvEEN7

    Happy Blogging!
    -Hayley

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