“The first big technology platform was the web, which digitized information. The second great platform was social media; it digitized people. We are now at the dawn of the third platform, which will digitize the rest of the world.”
Extended reality promises to be the next great technology platform, but while the scope of the opportunity is visible the technology isn’t ready to achieve it yet. Before XR becomes ready for the mainstream there are still a number of things to be figured out.
Companies of all sizes are racing to build a 1:1 scale digital map of the world around us, where physical reality itself becomes ‘clickable’ and searchable. Some people call this the Mirrorworld. Early signifiers are Snapchat’s Landmarker Lenses and Google Maps’ Live View.
The use of core smart assistant functions like music, weather, and alarms continues to grow, but other uses like shopping and games are declining. In-Skill purchase revenue on Alexa devices is said to be far below expectation.
Many of the really interesting use cases for 5G are yet to be discovered. Edge computing could drive more innovation than high-speed data alone. 5G may be a transformative technology, but it won’t happen imminently or obviously.
“Short video clips are the future of ecommerce. Think of them as compulsively watchable commercials — with a direct link to buy.”
Connie Chan & Avery Segal
Social networks are adding e‑commerce tools. This follows the social selling boom in China, where influencer marketing is giving way to direct selling from contacts in interest-based communities, increasingly through short-form and live-streamed video.
“Fortnite has become a daily social square — a digital mall or virtual afterschool meetup that spans neighborhoods, cities, countries and continents.”
Fortnite is innovating storytelling, but its real achievement may be in becoming a ‘third place’ for hanging out with friends and sharing live experiences. This provides opportunity for brands to reach a highly engaged audience.
“Advances in deep learning are enabling magic: neural networks can increasingly reproduce media content at such a high fidelity that it is almost impossible to tell apart from content created by humans.”
Synthetic media has the potential to shake everything up. It can clone voices, enables people to paint impossible landscapes, speak different languages, and dance, and generates portraits of non-existent people whose ethnicity can be modified on the fly.
“Animoji, Bitmoji, are the kernel of big ideas: they are masks that let you be more expressive than texts but also lower the resolution of how much you’re sharing about yourself.”
As we spend more time in immersive spaces the way we represent ourselves is becoming more richly expressive. Fashion brands are experimenting with official accessories for avatars, and the emergence of digital fashion is an indicator of the future of visual identity.
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