Where’d the Interface Go?

The average Brit checks their smartphone 221 times daily and has their eyes (and hands) glued to the device roughly 3 hours each day (itproportal). According to a very scientific conversion formula, that means that Americans must check their phones exactly 3,554 times daily, spending nearly 18.74 hours on their devices. That seems legit, right?

What is happening to our lives? Are we going to be sucked into the matrix or perhaps evolve into a species with smart devices embedded into the sides of our faces?  Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

With the advent of wearable technology, merging our lives with technology should become less time-consuming and less disruptive. Although I can’t promise it will be less invasive (check out this tech to see what I mean), I do predict that “zero-interface” technology may actually improve the quality of our lives. If the brains that create new tech can come up with a way to integrate technology into our lives that is natural-feeling and intuitive, we can break down the isolating barriers that current tech builds around us.

Here are my predictions for the future of libraries and library technology that will change our lives:

Selfie-Style Check-Out

Self-service stations in libraries will no longer require our patrons to actually carry their library cards. (They already don’t do this, but currently, this means we have to hassle them to show us photo ID to borrow materials.) Using facial-recognition technology, a small camera will scan and analyze a user’s face, comparing it to a database of patron snapshots and (nearly) instantaneously pull up their library accounts for use. This will enable patrons to borrow materials fresh out of the local swimming pool with no need to even grab their wallets (although I’m guessing that most libraries still require pants).

Vibration Enabled

RFID (radio frequency identification) tags will feature a special component that will trigger a vibration mode when library books become overdue. Although the incessant vibration may become annoying after an item is a day overdue, I’m confident that no one will want to hang onto their late items for more than that.

[I did not want to google for a picture.]

Heart-rate Monitor for Readers

Reading book reviews is helpful for finding good recommendations but they are notoriously painful to write. The average person won’t bother with writing book reviews because, let’s face it, we suffered enough for one lifetime being forced to write book reviews in third grade. But what if, our wearable pedometers (like Fitbit and Jawbone) could track out heart rate and breathing while reading? At the end of a good book, we could export our data and see a graphic of the peaks and troughs of our personal emotional involvement. Tack on a couple of easy-to-produce tags like “historical,” “romance,” and “no underpants” and you’d have a new way to share book evaluations that folks could process in seconds and know whether or not they want to read Under the Kilt by Hilda Plaidington.

Library Glass

Why read a book when you can experience a book? Wear Library Glass the way you would any normal pair of glasses. Around you, you will see the world of your book come to life as hateful spinsters stomp across your kitchen floor and filthy orphans lob giant wads of urine-soaked penny dreadfuls in your general direction. Don’t like Dickens? Then perhaps you better stick with your court tv.

Goodbye Siri!

Siri will be replaced by The Librarian, the best-ever most-realistic AI voice available to mankind. She will be created by splicing the DNA of Melvil Dewey, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Will Wheaton, Mary Roach, Jane McGonnigal, and a Unicorn – and wiring the resultant massive brain into the world’s largest and fastest server network. The best thing about The Librarian is that it won’t be restricted to iphones or other hand-held devices. Librarian Pods can be purchased and installed in any room or office. Voice-activated, the Pod can respond verbally to any question, request, or awkward comment (ready with suggestions on what would work better next time.) The best feature – The Librarian instantly understands what you’re saying. She will never ever tell you that you need to repeat yourself.

This Way, Please

When patrons come to the desk to ask for assistance in finding something, they can be filled with shame and discomfort at not understanding the library and not being able to accomplish a task for themselves. With an augmented reality projector wand, patrons can find materials on their own. Simply power on the unit and wave it in front of you. Projected in front of your feet, you will see green arrows pointing the way to your destination. Integrated with RFID technology, the AR wand can lead you straight to the book (and make you feel like a wizard) – even if the item is not where it’s supposed to be. In addition to the wand, Library Glass also has this feature built-in. The aural component is what makes this tech unique. It comes with 3 distinct modes:

  • Hot/Cold: “Warm, warmer, hot, hot, cold!”
  • Encouraging Buddy: “Nice job on that turn!  Way to walk down that hallway!”
  • Ninja Warrior: “Yahhh!! Whooooo!  Go, go, go!” (Cheering escalates as you get closer)

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