Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

05 December 2011

Augmented spaces: Nimble's Digital/Tactile Library

Nimble's produced this thought-worthy video on how augmented reality can be used to help people better navigate their way around libraries. It posits hypothetical solutions for finding books (even -- or ideally -- when the book you want is on a table somewhere), digitally interacting with what you're reading on paper, and sharing knowledge via social networks.

Sures Kumar, who built the concept and experience prototype, explains it thus:

Nimble shows what a mixed touch, digital, projection, and book-based library might look like. This is relevant because people still like the tactile feel of books and other printed media and they also like to browse.

It isn't immediately obvious to me how digital technology will be able to recognise and readily communicate with non-connected objects like books and newspapers, but I like the vision behind it: there will always be room for tactile objects, and we'll move between those and our digital "objects" with fluency. This also does a nice job of illustrating how important augmented spaces will be in the near future, as everyday and digital experiences build intimacy with one another.

Take the example of the new touchscreen-saturated Sephora store in New York. This screams "we're investing in experience", but I still think the integration is clumsy, simply because the screens themselves are so obvious.

What's cool about the Nimble video is its vision that interactive screens won't be obvious. In the next five years we will just expect banal everyday things to be able to engage us on an animate level, much like how, today, we increasingly expect to walk into a public space and have wifi.


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