Computing Will Merge With The Physical World

A recent post on Jonathan Kantor’s blog all about ‘generating more leads with video white papers’ got me thinking.

So here I am on a Sunday evening trying to imagine what technology white papers will look like maybe five years from now.

Will they still be pdf documents that people look at on computer screens or print out on paper?
Or will they be available on ‘flexible e-paper’ that can be carried around… and maybe even updated to the latest version on demand?

Then I came across this Nov 2009 TEDIndia presentation by MIT’s Pranav Mistry.

I don’t usually get excited about technology talks but this one was different because Pranav (and team) are already able to demonstrate how, in his words, “computing will merge with the physical world.” And all for a few hundred dollars…

I’d encourage you to watch this 14 minutes video and then have a look at the screenshots underneath because I see some fantastic times ahead for creators of technology whitepapers and case studies.

Wasn’t that breathtaking in its vision and reach!

Pranav believes that efforts like this will “help us stay human” as we learn to more easily relate digital information to the physical world – and vice-versa. And if you thought social media was a ‘pattern interruptor’ in the ways that people communicate and connect with each other around the world, just wait to the open source implementations of this technology gain critical mass.

I also think it’s a real game changer for many who are ‘scared’ of digital technology and all the input methods and geeky devices deemed necessary to join the reality within our virtual worlds.

Anyway, enough of my futurist babblings!

Here are three screen shots taken from Pranav’s talk that capture just some of the exciting potential this technology has for how white papers and case studies could be both created and consumed.

1) Creating And Surfing Between Physical and Virtual Worlds:



This is only prototype equipment but note how compact and light it is.

2) ‘Writing’ white papers may never be the same again!

It’s almost like making a movie 🙂 Notice in the video how Pranav pulls info between both digital and physical worlds.



I can see how even creating a whitepaper draft from customer-provided tangible and virtual documents could be a real blast!

3) ‘Real-Time’ or customized updates for Whitepapers


Take a look at the updated newspaper weather forecast or of watching President Obama speaking live at MIT, and then imagine similar updates to a case study or white paper.

For example, a ‘living’ white paper on data center racks could provide updated information on how new rack cooling designs or cabling systems could change how IT managers plan for future cloud computing infrastructures.

I can also see how a reader of such a document could get access to additional ‘on-page’ information (streaming webinars, live access to a product specialist etc) simply by providing authorization info. I doubt that will be an email address – possibly a trusted digital ID/certificate that identifies both parties securely.

Wow! I gotta stop now. So many possibilities….

I shall be keeping a copywriter’s digital eye on Pranav and his ‘SixthSense Technology.’

– Mark McClure

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About the Author
Author: Mark McClure - A freelance b2b case study and white paper writer to the computer networking industry. Based in Tokyo, Japan. About the 'Samurai Writer'.

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