Charles Armstrong is founder and CEO of TourWrist, “the YouTube of panoramas.”
Running a mobile-centric platform, I’m completely inspired by technology’s present metamorphosis. More than ever, our devices are becoming human, tailored to our lives and empowering us with new opportunities to connect and learn. So where will this leave us after today’s tweeters and Angry Birds have left the nest? Here’s a look at my vision through the eyes of a twentysomething in the year 2020.
The brief tune of Marimba. Not “a marimba,” but “Marimba.” It should be pleasant. It was pleasant at one point, but now it just signals a daily transition for Lucy. A connecting of flights between her dreams and reality.
Alarm off. Facebook open. Last night, Lucy posted much of her recent trip to Greece. She’d had a great time. Athens was almost obligatory, but her favorite leg was hopping among the Aegean Islands. While in Thasos, she was able to partake in the annual carnival. Later, while reliving the moment, she concluded that the festivity’s jubilant music and colors best epitomize the richness of Greece. She marked that moment as a cover for the entire Greece chapter of her lifepath.
Like nearly everyone in this not too distant future, Lucy records a copy of the world just about everywhere she goes. “Copy” is an appropriate term because unlike photos or video, her saved moments are complete. The spheres she records capture every detail, in all directions, at once. They capture other things too, like the time, location, and various forms of contextual personal, chronological and social data. Seemingly overnight, we found ourselves with access to an endless volume of recorded lifepaths, defying the cardinal rules of space and time by giving mankind the ability to re–navigate the world and events, on demand.
So what did Lucy’s friends say about Greece? Well, she got a lot of Likes. Mom and Dad relived every moment she shared. A dozen of her friends had a Hangout in one of her moments — a beautiful sunset from the roof of her Panagia hotel. And Becky says Lucy “should just ditch the whole admin thing and be the next Anthony Bourdain.”
Lucy moves onto the next content stream in her morning lineup …Wait, what’s this? SeoulMama09. A couple of taps later, and Lucy is enamored. This woman has a particularly interesting view of Korea — one that surprises Lucy. Seoul… hmmm. She decides to load up the most popular moment from SeoulMama’s lifepath. Instantly, Lucy’s tablet is transformed into a window — like a periscope — through space time. As she points her device up/down/left/right, its screen reveals a corresponding angle from SeoulMama’s view. It’s as if she has joined SeoulMama in experiencing the city.
The area looks a bit like Shibuya, Lucy observes. At this moment she is standing in the middle of an X-shaped crosswalk. Tall buildings surround her on all sides. Bright lights are everywhere, some flashing. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, though, Lucy gets swept up in the moment. She enjoys the cacophony of foreign voices. Everyone is rushing somewhere, even at this dark hour. Somehow, they’re all very stylish — much more so than what she’s used to at home.
Lucy is easily influenced by vibrant shopping districts at night. In fact, some analysis engines have already recognized that this disproportionately influences her travel decisions. But beyond travel, this technology influences Lucy’s fashion preferences too. It enriches her appreciation of foods, further immerses her in many forms of entertainment, and deepens her appreciation of many things on both local and global scales.
Okay, onto other social platforms… Nope. Out of time.
Cold floor. The sun has just come up. Ah, the soft rug in front of her TV.
The weather looks nice as she views a live moment from the Golden Gate Bridge. She walks up close for a broader view through the motion–tracking window that is her TV. Not too close to leave the shag rug though. The fog is clearing out as it always does. The overlaid forecast suggests today will be beautiful. As she leans left, peering around the frame of her TV, she sees and hears a group of tourists. Leaning right reveals a group of runners already seizing the day. Aaaallllrrriight. She flips to news while she gets ready.
In the background, Lucy hears about some new dance move that’s sweeping YouTube. It sounds absolutely ridiculous. … Yup, it is.
Piano Riff. Funny how it deflates Ari’s serious tone before he’s even had a chance to speak. “Hi Ari.”
“Morning, Lucy. So I was just told about a place in Pac Heights that might be perfect for next month’s office party. Mind taking a look?”
Back to reality. “Sure. What is it?”
“Some sort of coffee shop that you can rent out for events. Take a look…” Ari taps a button on his phone, and instantly Lucy’s smartphone is transformed into a movable portal to the coffee shop. Through it, she observes that she’s standing just inside the doorway. Light is flooding in. Behind her, the world outside looks inviting. In front of her, the cafe seems like a dirty cave, despite an average of 4 thumbs–up as dynamically applied to the front door. “Hmmm. Looks kind of dingy,” she points out.
“Maybe, but that’s just one, brief moment. I found some others that were better, but that’s before the building was converted to a coffee shop. It used to be some sort of boutique import store. Perhaps you can swing by before coming in? It’s on Fillmore.”
“Okay, I’ll let you know what I think of it.”
End. TV off. Backpack on. Wait, where’s her Glass? Nightstand. No time for breakfast. Will have to grab something on the way in.
In the car, Lucy tunes into NPR. It’s not that she’s a radio gal. But if she isn’t going with Spotify this morning, she might as well enlighten herself.
Something about North Korea. The Euro’s getting stronger. Apparently Brazil’s economy really benefitted from the 2016 Olympics. That’s cool. As she’s driving, Lucy asks Siri to flag Brazil.
Alright, parallel parking. Mini Cooper or not, there’s barely enough space.
Half these shops are calling to her. “Lucy, come inside. We have really cool stuff in here.” Her heads up display shows a 360º interior of each shop (which she briefly scans by turning her head). But she doesn’t stop. If she’s really motivated, she can always power through the shops remotely, even loading those items that she’d like to examine from different angles.
Nice! A gluten-free bakery, she discovers. Smells good. Mentally noted.
Aaaaaannnnd, here’s the coffee shop. Okay, not as dingy.
Actually, it’s pretty decent inside. Walking through to the back. Ooooh, the strung up lights are a nice touch! Lucy can imagine the effect at nighttime. Better yet, she long-presses to see what others have recorded here.
Yup, just as suspected. It’s enchanting. Even as a boutique import shop, the previous occupants understood how cool this patio was.
Walking through the cafe, the hemispherical lenses on each side of Lucy’s eyewear capture everything, stitching and saving the resulting, spherical recordings instantly to her lifepath. Some people prefer to use their smartphones like wands (having advanced a lot in the past 10 years), while still others use dedicated spherical recording devices. Once Lucy’s made a quick pass through the venue, she calls Ari so that he can explore her experience too.
“Hey, what do you think?” she asks.
Ari beams in. Old hardwood floors. High, exposed–beam ceilings. A modern–day nomad playing music in the corner. The artwork on the walls isn’t his style, but overall, the place has a fun vibe. He turns around again and walks ahead to fast–forward down the hall. At the back of the cafe, he’s treated to a big, open room. It’s nicer than the front of the cafe, and would be perfect for a company soirée.
“Yeah, this’ll work,” he surmises. “What do you think?”
“I like it,” she says. “Especially the courtyard. Let me show you.”
With a grab and pull gesture, Lucy directs Ari to present time in her path, where he sees what she’s talking about. There’s an old fountain to his left, mismatched tables just beyond. He flicks his smartphone forward to take a closer look. Somehow, despite the sense of abandon this place carries, it’s still very comfortable — just the sort of relaxed environment one might seek out to unwind. Just the sort of venue he’s looking for.
“It’s got a very bohemian feel,” he says. “Okay, I’ll work with them on the price. Thanks.”
“Alright, I’ll be in in 30,” she says. Time for some breakfast.
As she’s leaving, Lucy decides to try out the bakery next door. Amazing; it seems you can have anything in “gluten free” these days. She orders a muffin and a latte.
After exploring 4 lifepaths around Rio de Janeiro for 6.5 minutes, they bring her the latte and some information about their ingredients. Tapioca. Rice. Quinoa. That’s a new one. Apparently it originated in the Peruvian Andes, it reads. Her Glass hyperlinks the location. Lucy already knows that selecting it will reveal the most representative moment as curated by Wikipedia’s ever–helpful community of contributors.
Gorgeous! Suddenly Lucy’s standing atop a mountain. It’s no Fuji, but her vantage point is high enough to see the world below on just about all sides. For a moment, she’s truly there. Quinoa and coffee. Sun rising over the Andes. It’s exhilarating. South America scores a second point.
Tonight, back among dreamscapes, she may find even more inspiration. These days when anywhere, anytime is accessible on demand, Lucy’s imagination has become the only limit to her voyages — real or otherwise. For now though, it’s off to work.