The Xmedia Lab in Malmö on Friday with a focus on Location Based we were treated to some great speakers with relevant insight.  Here are some of my take away reflections put in the social context.  Thank you to all of the great speakers for sharing your insight.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Johan P Bang, MD Future Position X emphasized that without the continual build out of infrastructure the effectivity of location based tools will remain confined to highly developed areas.  It location based tracking must be integrated into all new projects – from city planning to building construction and telecommunications.  Gigi Wang, Chair Emeritus Stanford/MIT Venture Lab, reminded us to also consider in densely populated cities with high rises, the importance of the Z component to improve indoor tracking and height.

MOVEMENT, from two perspectives (one that we need more of it – off the couch, the other that it is actual movement that is more interesting that static location).  Vishal Gondal, Founder CEO of Indiagames Ltd., emphasized the rise of the Near Field Communications (NFC) and the idea that this should be used more for engaging on-site, ie. voting. This was also “layered” with Ivo Van Barnevald, from Layar on with the augmented reality tools in which you can experience new content in existing reality in 3D with movement, ie. Berlin Wall where it was (developed by Hoppala). Then movement from pay as you drive based insurance, to estimating regional traffic and usage to tracking your family and friends for safety or fun with lociloci.  The ability to capture attention where and when it is relevant in two different presentations resulted in 45% action – unheard of in traditional media. Think about it this way, if you are asked to do something when you are walking by the store, it is more likely to happen than if you are asked to do it when you have already passed it or are on the other side of town – efficiency, least effort, and making a difference.

PRIVACY, always a consideration and the ability to be opt-out when one doesn’t want to be tracked.  Not everyone wants to be tracked, all the time.

ACCESSIBILITY, a favorite topic of mine especially when relating to developing countries accessibility to infrastructure and hardware.  Great to hear about the predictions of availability of smart phones for $10 by 2020 from mobile guru Tomi Ahonen.  This statement was not only confirmed by Alvin Wang Graylin, CEO founder, mInfo inc Shanghai, but also thought to be possible sooner given the innovation happening in China for such devices at low cost.

GAMIFICATION, Paris Butterfield, Secret Lab, advised integrating game mechanics: competitiveness, achievement, status, respect, rewards, and self expression.  He expressed caution to consider the why, not a bolt on.  Therefore define end goal. Start with vision and decide which bits can be gamified.  I appreciated his frankness to a point on badges “Beware of badges, they kind of suck by themselves.”  He stressed recognizing that people want to socialize and that community comes first, then the game.  SERIOUS GAMES, as Noah Falstein, President, the Inspiracy , referred to the application of game mechanics to solve real world problems.  His enthusiasm was infectious from over 30 years in game development and todays merging of many trends (GPS, SG, Sensors, 3D, Social, Mobile) all coming together and the opportunities that creates.  “Learn from the past, but don’t repeat it” he said.

INTEGRATION, In which one can consider a tool like Word Lens in which the augmented reality tools combined with location based technologies, OCR and translation can open interaction with new markets where language creates a large barrier to entry.  Listening to Alvin and his great synopsis on the market in China, these tools certainly stand out as critical steps.  The greater comfort level we can create in integrating these tools in a value added non-distruptive way, the more effective and connected we can be.

VISION: I mentioned this point earlier but must come back to it.  The importance of vision and having a reason for integrating these tools is undeniable.  Social impact is possible and the world can be a better place if we can reach the people that need our help, connect to people to share experiences, interact with the world (both in augmented reality and the world), and share knowledge: where and when they are needed (context and relevance).

MAGIC: All of this may have seemed like smoke and mirrors not so long ago.  But as Orvar Säfström said so well, “Digital dreams of today are the realistic goals of tomorrow”.

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