My last post talked about a fascinating piece of technology being developed at MIT Media Lab called SixthSense, using technology that combines a camera, projector, cell phone and an amazing interface to the web. I suggested that these combined capabilities will radically alter the way a consumer shops, and importantly for package designers, the way we design.
I talked about a fundamental question. When a consumer has all of the product information of the web at their fingertips, in real time at the store, then what does a package really need to communicate? I think we may begin to find out rather soon.
Just last week I thought this technology was unlikely to happen quickly. But two chance encounters in the last few days exposed me to technology, available now on any iPhone, that could bring a lot of Sixthsense functionality to the store, now.
I attended an open house at SVA on Saturday for their new Masters in Branding program (more on this soon). In talking with Tom Guarriello, one of the faculty, he mentioned that the yelp app has some of this functionality now. Point your phone camera down the city street and all kinds of info about stores and restaurants begins to appear on the screen. Imagine the application of this idea as you walk through the produce department at Stop & Shop.
And today I attended an information session with the package design folks at FIT on their new sustainable packaging initiative (more on this soon too) and Laura Tufariello of Design & Source, mentioned ScanLife. Turns out this application, available now, allows access to product information from the web. The only thing the manufacturer needs to do is put the ScanLife bar code on the package. The image above shows a Scandinavian ad that has a link to product videos.
And finally I found Wikitude, a “markerless AR experience”, (which simply means no bar code needed) that the developers describe in this way,
“WIKITUDE World Browser presents the user with data about their surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of a smart-phone.”
Again imagine having this kind of tool as you browse the game aisle of your local Target store, searching for that perfect board game for your 5-year-old niece.
These are wonderful times for consumers and designers alike.