If you’re wondering where things are ‘at’ this year, then spare a thought for all things 3D. Today saw the official launch of security holograms at one of London’s airports – Manchester had them a day or two ago – and Nintendo have had a successful premier for their 3D gaming system that doesn’t require users to wear uncomfortable glasses. So cool apparently is Nintendo’s 3DS, that salivating pundits are predicting smartphone systems and other mobile playgear will be incorporating similar technology by the time we get to 2012.
But the reality – virtual or otherwise – is that all things 3D are simply a precursor to an even bigger Internet of Things, which has been discussed and debated for many years now but which inches closer by the day. Mobile health consulting, mobile payment systems, geolocation services – all of these things we take pretty much for granted and all of us, willing or not, are in some ways guinea pigs for the virtual experimentation of companies, brands, organisations and governments.
As communicators, we need to be right in the middle of the playground and comfortable with pretty much all of this gadgetry as it already has a significant impact on the way we interact with our stakeholders, build relationships and create the understanding necessary to maintain our organisation’s licence to operate. We also need to understand how our stakeholder experience of techno-wizardry is going to affect interaction before we rush in and load up the toys. Take Holly and Graeme (the holographic security announcers in London). As a passenger, standing at the back of the kind of long, tedious security lines you get at airports, such cheery messages from smiling holograms might, in the end, simply become irritating. If the line stalls, or there are extensive delays, the hologram is only programmed with a simple set of ‘one-way’ messages. It can neither respond or react to stakeholder problems or concerns so in itself, it becomes an issue in the making. Personally, I find it incredible that despite the listening capabilities of many of the available technologies, organisations continue to push them into ‘top-down-one-way’ service.
This year may have a futuristic feel to it, with mobile tagging, 3D, interactive games and check-ins galore, but if, as communicators, we are going to make these tools work as part of our stakeholder engagement, then we must first be the guinea pigs – a little ethnographic research goes a long way, even if it does mean becoming Mayor or playing Farmville, Cityville or Angry Birds ourselves…