A vision of an optimistic, but not uncomplicated, future
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
Most projections about our future fall into two categories - confident and enthusiastic or gloomy and pessimistic. But if you look hard enough for both perspectives, you can usually find the flip side to whatever the presenter is presenting, even in a decidedly one-sided prognostication.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Vodafone's Future Vision website is an example of a beautifully produced and unrelentingly optimistic look at future technologies - and yet there are still some unaddressed 'complications' present in the predictions. Pro or con though, the execution alone makes a visit worthwhile.
Winner of two Cannes awards (yes, they do more than movies) and last year's FWA Site Of The Year and People's Choice honors (the FWA selections made from a list of more than 26,000 nominations), Future Vision has been online since January of 2004, and has increased the host's site traffic by over 30% without the need for direct promotion.
Opening with a bit of chirping and beeping, the splash page offers quick access to the site introduction or any of the near-future scenarios being presented. First time visitors choosing the Introduction page will encounter a text preamble along with a precisely appropriate voice for the project (you'll see, errr, I mean hear), reading the transcript for you - just in case you feel that doing it yourself is just too 20th century.
(Ah, but already we see one of the early threats of future devices doing everything for us, as those who do choose to read along will notice that the narrator, well...skips a bit, and not only leaves out a few phrases of the text, but throws the read-along cursor out of position in the process. And is it just a coincidence that the words the narrator leaves out are ones about Vodafone 'needing our input' and our being 'partners in innovation?' Hmmm...)
Leave the intro page, and a virtual Vodafone vision of lovlieness offers the surfer four scenarios through which to explore the communications wonders of tomorrow - after which she politely drops out of focus. (Though you can still see her blinking as you contemplate your future path.) The four choices? Entertaining in London, Working in Munich, Belonging in Rome, and Caring in Stockholm. When ready, you simply click on your selection, and the Vision gracefully - albeit redundantly - presses the appropriate button and sends you on your way.
Entertaining invokes the sometimes welcomed, sometimes dreaded concept of "infotainment." Options are presented in an undeniably impressive piece of Flash programming. Briefly introduced by the now out-of-sight (but no doubt, still blinking) introductress, Entertaining follows London resident, Lisa, through an evening at home or on the town - depending on surfer-chosen paths which generate a series of interactive scenes.
When loaded, each new scene contains a few hotspots highlighting some piece of technology which, when the visitor selects the "Know More" option, generates a transparent popin window (with the original image still visible behind). Here the site displays basic illustrations and a few details about the object in question, as well as an invitation for viewer feedback. (Not very detailed feedback, mind you - just "I like it." "It's OK." and "I don't like it.")
Some hotspots also offer an "Experience" option, which demonstrates the technology in action - as when Lisa gets an invitation on her wrist phone (we're still trying to catch up with Dick Tracy), from just paid friends Nina and Caroline, to hit the town. A response of, "sorry but I'm staying in" reveals an evening of reading an electronic magazine in a room decorated with digital wallpaper (decor can change at a whim), while a robotic vacuum cleaner occupies itself sucking cookie crumbs.
If Lisa decides to join her friends, we're treated to downtown and up to the minute digital billboards, electronic maps showing what's playing and where plus the hang out of friends. Should the scene get tense, just tap an automatic personal alarm system with a direct link to the proper authorities.