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“A lot can happen by relating information about time and location to a picture. We all have calendars, and matching the time and location on our calendars allows us to derive tons of information. It’s part of all the processes in your life becoming mobile, becoming digital, and having all this intelligence. That applies both in the enterprise and in your personal life. All of this helps the picture become instantly smart. In the future, we’ll also be able to apply pattern recognition to the images, which will analyze things like colors and shapes, and we’ll have a very smart system that does a lot of things automatically for people. This will mean a radical simplification of the user experience as well as exciting new possibilities to make people more efficient and more creative.”
Any of the images described in this book could benefit by creating smart personal content. Hyder & Company’s field photos could automatically be tied to a time, date, location, project, and individual. Sally Carrocino could easily keep track of which image was taken at which client stop. The home and garden images taken around the world by HomeGo reps would have automatic references to the country, the industry show, or even the street in Rome where an image was taken, and which representative or designer took it. Clear Channel could eliminate its manual input of the basic time,
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location, and project information and have those details attached to the image automatically. This “experience” data merges image and text into a powerful new form of information linked directly to our everyday lives.
VISUAL MOBILITY AND THE THIRD SCREEN
Mobile visual communication, manifested in the camera phone, represents one of the most striking examples of the trend toward creating a kind of personalized technology that is accessible anywhere and anytime such that it fits the circumstances of our lives.
When considering what can only be adequately described as the camera-phone phenomenon—the device exploded on the global stage in 2001 with such force that by 2004 it outsold all other forms of cameras (film and digital) combined—we’re powerfully reminded of a phrase we heard many times during our travels: “This is something that wants to happen.” This was spoken by technologists, inventors, artists, and educators to describe technology developments that have been part of our consciousness for as long as we’ve been dreaming of the future.
The camera phone, an intelligent personal tool that includes communication, information, and imaging capabilities, has “wanted to happen” for decades. As impressive as today’s models are, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. A device that can fulfill the basic dream of the “personal communicator” has now emerged in the marketplace . . . and the broadening of its capabilities begins. (In this regard, we fully expect that, for many of our readers, the very mention of the camera phone and its power to transform communication will generate controversy. Examples of misuse of the technology, as well as some of its very best uses, have been featured prominently in the mass media. In fact, the implications of an
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imaging device we have with us at all times, one that is permanently connected to the global network, are profound. They go well beyond the realm of business and extend into our social, cultural, and political worlds—and ultimately, perhaps, into our very physiology. For that reason, we return to this point in the afterword of this book.)
Although camera phones have been available worldwide only since 2001, and in the United States since 2003, they have been improved and enhanced more aggressively than any consumer product in history. In 2003, most cell phone screens were black and white; now color screens are the rule, and the quality of those screens is often startlingly good. The screens are designed to display the same kind of content we’re used to seeing on our computers and TVs. As more of us use our phones for viewing e-mail and images, web browsing, appointment calendars, and contact information, they become central to our personal and work lifestyles and, after our TV and computer, are emerging as the third screen in our lives.
The transition from cameras to camera phones parallels the history of the telephone. Before the introduction of the mobile phone, voice communication was limited to wired phones in homes and offices, or in public places via pay phones—in other words, physical access to the wires enabled communication. Wireless communications changed the rules forever, making an anytime, virtually anywhere connection a reality and freeing us to stay in touch without having to stay in place.
Similarly, while the digitization of imaging was the first step in untethering pictures from paper printouts, a physical connection to a wired access point was still necessary in order for images to travel over networks. Now that the image-capturing devices themselves are equipped to wirelessly send and receive images, anytime, anywhere, visual communication will become as natural a part of our behavior as voice conversations.