- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 26 July 2012 05:03, Updated 26 July 2012 05:06
How many of the following have you heard of? Spimes, shanzhai or gamification. Do you know what they are? And why you should care?
A new book, 64 Things You Need To Know Now For Then, by British journalist, technologist and broadcaster Ben Hammersley, explains the terms above as part of a quick primer on new ideas in business, technology, politics and culture and sets out to explain some of the huge shifts that have happened since the internet became a part of daily life. Even for the tech savvy, the book is likely to be useful as it surfs through broad areas of social change and makes predictions about where trends are likely to go.
Here are some of them:
Spimes: At the moment they are an idea but likely to come into existence soon, Hammersley says.
“A Spime is an object that can interact with the world by tracking its own process of production and by gathering information about its usage,” Hammersley says. “Essentially it’s a self-documenting object.”
Imagine being able to use a built-in GPS unit to track where a pair of pre-worn jeans – the material perfectly aged – were worn before you buy them. Or a piece of fruit in a supermarket that can be scanned using an app on your phone to give you information about how and where it was grown.
As consumers become more interested in the provenance of goods, spimes could become mainstream.
Objects that record information about themselves may also be helpful in terms of iterative design, Hammersley says, “flaws and faults could be pinpointed with complete accuracy, the information fed back into the design process seamlessly”.
“Safety records could be improved; the quantities of energy or materials required could be reduced,” he says.
Shanzhai: Bought any cheap knock-offs from China lately? Did you notice they were superior to the original designs? For instance, the mobile phone that has holes for two sim cards enabling calls on two numbers, or the Adivon brand, which not only looks very much like Adidas but also advertised at the NBA. That’s shanzhai.
“New manufacturing techniques, a growing consumer culture and a disregard for local regulations and international intellectual property laws have meant that Chinese shanzhai manufacturers have become experts in not only copying fashionable Western goods but also improving on them,” Hammersley says.
“This speed of innovation and speed to market is a major challenge for mainstream manufacturers in the developing world.”
Gamification: Design techniques used in computer games are finding their way into many parts of our lives. Among those taking an interest are politicians, social scientists and marketing departments.
“Game designers have invented endless ways to make their products compelling and to coax their players in particular directions, drawing on psychological research as well as artistic vision,” Hammersley says.
“Game players like to be awarded for achievement. They like to have a personal score they can set out to beat, as well as participating in challenges against another person. They love to accumulate points that can be redeemed for rewards.”
Think about how you might have tried to boost your number of Twitter followers, responding to the “implicit challenge to compete with other users”, says Hammersley. That’s game psychology at work.