Let’s toast the new reality.
The digital world is changing every time we blink. For those of us who learned to read with Dick, Jane and Sally, it’s a never-ending struggle to keep up. Even digital natives can be challenged, as though confronting a new dialect when you thought you were already fluent. But nothing compares to the re-orientation (or disorientation, depending upon your own orientation) of augmented reality.
The increasing accessibility of 3D technologies is eye-opening, and certain to expand into 2013 and beyond. The popularity and sensationalism of 3D movies that started in 2009 with James Cameron’s Avatar and Disney’s Up has grown into a mainstream vision. New and old flicks are now being released in 3D. This year’s Life of Pi, combined both 3D filming and modeling for the ultimate AR trip. (Note: For those of you who want to wake up with beasts, Colorful Childhood is introducing a 3D jungle animal wall mural.) The newest TVs are configured for 3D streaming. If only Netflix would get on board. More books are getting the picture, with Popar and others offering augmented reality experiences that marry computers, e-readers, and yes, physical books.
Increasingly, 3D printers are coming into play. Makerbot’s 3D printers are designed for home use. At around US$2000, they may not replace your trusty HP, but as evidenced by this Ford testimonial, the technology is changing the way companies design and prototype. What used to take days and thousands of dollars to create, can now happen in hours. Another company, Shapeways is using 3D printers to create a virtual marketplace for crafters. Can a tactile MineCraft be far behind?
The Cloud and multi-platforms have also stretched our realities beyond yesterday’s limits. Content is expected to be available 24/7, everywhere and everyplace. Have something to say? Livescribe’s Sky WiFi Smartpen captures your written words, pictures and audio and automatically syncs it to the cloud or a mobile device so it can be shared with the world. Instagram lets you time travel with your friends.
Real time interaction may be a given, though it still has the power to thrill. The 12-12-12-Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert was sold out at Madison Square Garden in NYC, but it was streamed online and aired on radio all over the globe, enabling two billion people to experience the concert live. On a smaller scale, my daughter recently watched my plane land from her bedroom using FlightTrack Pro. It didn’t have quite the intensity of Felix Baumgartner’s heavily tweeted, you-are-there free-fall space jump, but she admitted feeling connected.
What does this all mean for us, the makers and doers of kids’ media? I spend a lot of time looking at new products and ideas, helping companies figure out how to spin their ideas into actions. The new realities give us more ways to play. More ways to communicate. And more ways to entertain.
In other words, we now have more ways to live life to the fullest…and then some. What a great thought to start 2013.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, real-time New Year.
Send me some real thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.