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Friday, March 12, 2010

Imagination and the iPad - Blue-Skying the Future

Boy Wading
Those who dismiss the iPad as being a "glorified iPod Touch" likely don't own the iTouch or iPhone - and haven't caught the vision of their exceptional versatility. They really do change the way you relate to the Internet and liberate you - within limits, of course - from being tethered to your desktop.

I'm expecting the same kind of freedom from the iPad. I can imagine being curled up with not only a good ebook, but a good movie or some great streaming content from the web. I can imagine touch processing my email the way I do on my iPhone, but doing it from my favourite chair on a much bigger screen. I can imagine flipping the pages of a bright ebook (my 50-something eyes thank you, Steve) in that "intimate" experience Jobs talked about during the launch, or perhaps the simple cool factor of using my TweetDeck or Tweetie app the way I do on my iPhone - on a 9" screen on my lap.

But, more to the point here - I can also imagine a LOT more.

Creative applications
It seems the iPad and augmented reality would be made for each other for certain educational, business, and creative applications. So, while these odd musings may be just that now, here's what I hope to see in the next five to 10 years.

I imagine placing four or five little GPS dots on a wall and moving them around like Post-It notes. Then I point the iPad (which would in the second iteration include a camera) at those dots and immediately see the positions of the scanned pictures I want to hang on that wall. Once the images are "live" so to speak, I move the pictures around the wall with my finger to get alternate configurations.

I imagine interior designers making over entire rooms virtually by aiming the iPad camera at a kitchen or living room and spilling colours from a virtual palette onto the walls, ceilings and furniture. This capability, plus scores of apps written for designers, becomes an indispensable sales and visioning tool.

In much the same way as my iPhone can identify songs simply by listening to them in Shazam, sending a clip to iTunes and kicking me back the title and album, plus the artist's biography, discography, tour info and YouTube videos, I imagine similar databases for all kinds of things.

iBotany and architectural ID
Biology teachers on a field trip in the woods could snap pictures of a leaves or plants, have them sent in moments to "iBotany" or some such future app, and get an instant ID on the specimen. Architectural students could point the iPad at a building and find the style of those glorious old buildings around town. Anything tangible, anything that can be catalogued, could be identified in the same way.

With a high resolution camera and some GPS/database magic, I imagine snapping a picture of my home library, entering a title and watching it ID the book's location for me. Heck, with some fancy future tagging and software, I could haul my iPad down to an unfamiliar school or other bricks and mortar library, punch in a book title, and physically see its location in that room or on another floor.

I imagine pointing my iPad at my desk and having it ferret out a document's location by name. How? Who knows, but I want it. On the links, I can imagine someone pointing the iPad at me and analyzing the trajectory of my sorry golf swing by sending the video clip to iDuffer.

Did I mention just how important a high-end camera will be? The iPad will have pretty much the largest display of any available video camera - providing there are enough Apple Kool-Aider's who buy the product to make the addition of a camera a second- or third-generation reality.

I imagine this as a huge plus to broadcast students, filmmakers, ad agencies and creative types. With a sturdy case, tons more memory (I know I'm dreaming, but that's the point here) and two great big side grips to hold it while video recording, the iPad could evolve into creative tool like no other.

Cataloguing the planet
There's great potential in the iPad, and the iPhone for that matter, in cataloguing, identifying and analyzing just about any tangible object on this big blue planet. Combine that with awesome video potential, GPS and advances in satellite info to give us the ability to tag buildngs and objects by height as well as on the ground, and it could spawn a new generation of super tools.

But enough of my blue skies. What have you been dying to do creatively or productively that you can't do without some fancy tech innovations? What do you need that we're on the cusp of developing - that's so close you can almost touch it, but isn't quite here.

In short, what do you imagine?


  1. I can imagine a lot of things like you mention, Ray. I love my iTouch, but for somethings the screen is a tad small - but if I can read eBooks with multimedia embedded, surf, watch TED videos, etc from my sun room - or anywhere, it is for me! I also see this as a great tool for students - in K-12 and higher ed - could be the end of textbooks, finally!

  2. Yes, I know what you mean Mike. I'm really looking forward to that same kind of experience. My sons have already started talking about it as the family or "communal" iPad (their words not mine).

    We see it as something that can sit on the coffee table and be at the disposition of any member of the family who wants to use it - even for a couple of us who want to curl up and take in movie or explore an online photo album together.

    As far as education is concerned, because of it's size, the iPad becomes that interactive platform that people have been dreaming of. Unlike a laptop or netbook, it does hold the potential for becoming quite simply a better tool for both lerning and presenting.