Communication about the things we consume in our society is a major part of our economy, and helps to shape materially how we live. As increasingly wide swaths of endeavor like manufacturing, distribution, and retail are reconfigured due to the flowering of several technologies the role of the technical communicator will once again be implicated to get ones bearing as these new technologies come online around us.
Take Google Glass for instance, this looks to be a technological solution in need of a problem.
But imagine: in a scene only slightly more likely than when Tom Cruise’s eye was scanned so the Gap’s hologram salesperson could personalize his service in Minority Report, that of (mundane?) grocery shopping.
Some of the bigger grocery stores – not to mention big box stores like Walmart and Target – are actually quite complex for someone to navigate with their thousands of products and infinite possibility of combinations. For example, what would be the cheapest, fastest way to get the ingredients for 4 recipes downloaded from AllRecipes.com – what if that combination was analyzed in the cloud and mapped out in an overlay by Google Glass in suggestions and arrows through the maze of aisles – complete with an optional 5 minute detour across the street where the produce is half a day fresher and on special.
The possibilities of this type of integration, which would take advantage of a new technical device category like Google Glass, as well as cloud computing to crunch the numbers and logic, Big Data to inventory all the products at multiple stores along with the various relevant supply chains all available and then tapping into RFID on products to locate them via GPS – all these are either recently matured technologies or are just now coming onstream.
If you combine the above scenario with other nacient but rapidly maturing technologies like print-on-demand manufacturing with the kind of IFTTT interaction increasingly available to mobile devices, and the kind of sophisticated e-commerce backends which are continuously developing, it seems clear we are about to take another great leap forward – in a material way.