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As computers change and adapt, it’s important to keep asking ourselves how this will affect digital publishing.

Tech is getting smaller by the year and moving closer to our skin, or rather we are pulling it closer. From human-detached desktops, to more mobile laptops/notebooks; and most recently transitioning into our pockets in the form a mobile phones – we have now reached a stage where technology is wearable and resides on the surface of our skin. The next step doesn’t bear thinking about; microchips and internal tech turning humans part-cyborg.

The wearable tech leaders in question are Google Glass and smart watches. Whilst Google Glass is making profound changes to areas such as medicine and education, allowing students to watch operations live from a surgeon’s-eye-view through the video feature, it doesn’t seem to be making leaps and bounds in non-visual fields.

Once you get over the initial impressive design and concept, all Google Glass can do is provide notifications, search Google, take photos and shoot video – even the cheapest phones today can do that. It’s essentially a cyber-receptionist. The same can be said for the smart watch, the only difference being a user’s preference between head and wrist.

It may be obvious by now that I don’t think Google Glass and smart watches will be revolutionising the world of digital publishing anytime soon, especially in terms of how we produce content. Two things might be affected though, both to do with the way readers interact with both print and digital publications.

Google say that using Glass will allow users to experience more of the “real world”. We won’t be hunched over our phones reading emails disengaged from the world around us; we’ll be multitasking, experiencing the world whilst receiving notifications. Instantaneous updates/ decisions will be made, using the voice command option to decide whether we want to read or delete an email entitled “NEW PUBLICATION”. This will put the pressure on marketing. With phones we tend to check our emails when we have time, giving our reader loyalty more consideration; with Glass the decision will be instant as notifications live in your peripheral vision.

Today when we see juicy content we want to engage with; an advert, hyperlink, person etc., the thought of Googling it usually travels to the back of our mind until later, not wanting to stray from the content or open a new tab. Synchronised reading and searching may become second nature to us when using Google Glass and smart watches. Minimal effort will be required to search phrases and have Google Glass read the result directly into your ear. Content will have to be accurate down to the last letter. Users will expect to find necessary information and supporting evidence at the command of their voice.

As of yet publishing won’t have to make many drastic changes to meet the needs of wearable tech, but as it develops beyond an advanced notification and searching system keep we’ll be analysing what affects it might have on the digital publishing industry.

Header image credit: Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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