Mail Today Story on the Biggest Technology Trends of 2010s

Mail Today interviewed me recently for a story on the biggest technology trends of 2010s.

I think Augmented Reality will be the biggest digital technology trend over the next decade.

Augmented Reality applications add a data layer to physical objects, and augment our physical reality by making it interactive. Basically, you point your mobile phone camera at any physical object (a building, a book, a person) and get information about it, superimposed on the screen, in real time.

As an example, you will be able to point your cameraphone at the cute girl in the neighborhood cafe and see that she is single, likes super-achiever type men, and has three friends in common with you, but tends to complain about her ex-boyfriends in public. The app will achieve this feat by identifying her through face recognition technology, then quickly scanning her profile information and status messages on Facebook and Twitter. If you still fancy your chances with her, it will request your common friends to introduce you to her via Facebook Connect driven dating service Thread.

Layar and Mobilizy/ Wikitude are early examples of AR apps and Pranav Mistry’s talk at TEDIndia is a sign of things to come.

Augmented reality has the potential to transform how we create and consume content (read blog post that mention the red fort while you are there), how we connect with people (Googling someone before meeting them will be so 2000s in the 2010s), and how we relate to brands (read reviews about a new movie by pointing at the movie poster).

The step before Augmented Reality (a world that is digital by default) will be a web that is social by default. You will be able to sign into very website with your Facebook/ Google OpenSocial/ Twitter ID, see what your friends are doing on the website and seamlessly publish your activities to your Facebook/ Orkut/ Twitter activity streams. For the rare anachronistic website which still won’t enable these social features, you will be able to use a browser add on like Glue to do the same.

Here’s the full text of the article.


By Neha Tara Mehta in New Delhi

Life is going to be about e- xistence, literally. Digital technology will rule us in abigger and better way

CIRCA 2020: You have a thing for the new girl in office and want to know if she is single and as perky as she appears when she’s around the coffee machine. All you have to do is discreetly point your mobile phone camera towards her. The face-recognition software linked to her social networking site will give you information about her in real time — superimposed on the camera.

You may not like what you see: the software tells you she is single (yippee!) and likes super- achievers ( do you qualify?). But a quick scan of her blog, Facebook and Twitter status messages may reveal she gets irritated with a boyfriend who smokes and plays games on his mobile phone when he’s out with her. Still interested in her? Perhaps the girl in the next cubicle would have fewer hang- ups? Give your dating the digital edge and whip out the mobile camera again.

Then again, if you’ve settled into happy domesticity but are engaged in warfare over who’ll do the laundry, go for the Home Management Application on Facebook/ Twitter , which is connected to your washing machine.

In the middle of your board meeting, you could use your phone to write on your washing machine’s wall that it needs to get down to washing. The washing machine, in turn, will write on your wall (as well as that of your wife and maid, if she is also on a social networking site), that it has achieved its key result area for the day.

If 2009 ended with news of a website ( that allows you to commit an online ritual suicide on Facebook , the new decade is certainly not going to see the liberation of your digital body.

If anything, online social networking is set to grow exponentially — and not just between people. In an increasingly wired world, people as well as machines will interact socially — dramatically altering the way we perceive reality and connect with others.

“Googling someone before meeting him will be so 2000s in the 2010s,” says Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 2020 Social. He predicts that Augmented Reality — which adds a data layer to physical objects, thus making our physical reality interactive — will be the biggest digital technology trend in the next decade. So your mobile camera will be your walking encyclopedia or the ultimate voyeur.

Online market research company Juxt Consult estimates that as of May 2009, social networking was an activity undertaken by 41 per cent of the regular internet users in the country (around 15.05 million). Internet penetration is still less than 5 per cent. Things will change in the next few years, with an array of devices getting connected to the Net.

The dominant trend in the next decade, says Nikhil Pahwa, editor of the online telecoms and digital media news website Medianama, will be the availability of media across interactive platforms. “With 3G, LTE and 4G, every connected platform will have the ability to be an access point to a social environment,” Pahwa says.

What will ensue is a far more intelligent use of social media than now, says Rajiv Dingra, founder and CEO, Watblog. So your level of social interaction will be leagues ahead of just throwing sheep at each other on Facebook .

As of now, only one in five mobile users log on to the net. In the future, the mobile phone will be the primary mode of connecting to the net, and will emerge as the fulcrum of a connected reality the way we have never known it before. “In the last 10 years, we have primarily used voice-based services on the mobile. In the next decade, the non-voice services will become more important,” says Rajesh Jain, MD, Netcore Solutions.

The mobile will make social networking a lot more instantaneous. “Once people take to social networking on the phone, the interaction will become a lot more frequent,” Mrutyunjay Mishra, co-founder, Juxt Consult, predicts.

The potential for social media driven activism is also enormous. “Imagine 50 million mobile cameras connected to 3G,” says Pahwa. “We can have unquestionable truth on a video recording making it to the net in realtime.” You could have a villager filming a politician distributing money to voters, and posting it on the net in real time.

Jasmine Shah, the brain behind the Jago Re! One Billion Votes campaign, is bullish about using social media to engineer social change. Janagaraha, the NGO he works for, will soon launch Ijanagraha, which will be like Facebook tailored for social change. “We will connect citizens who are unknown to each other, but feel for the same cause,” he says. “We will launch the site in 10 locations and put people in the same polling booth area in touch with each other,” he says.

Maybe these neighbours will want to check each other out with their mobile phone camera. Reality is set to become a far more augmented experience.

Cross-posted at 2020 Social: Because Business is Social.

As CEO of 2020 Social, I build and nurture online communities for Indian and international clients, connect their customers, partners and employees, and help them achieve their business objectives. Ask us how we can help you.

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