Screens anywhere

The idea of public, interactive screens has fascinated me for a long time. I had the opportunity to present some thoughts on “screens anywhere” at two excellent conferences in 2012: Fluxible and The Conference, where this video was shot. It is a strangely optimistic take on a future where the use of public screens aren’t regulated.

What would happen if interactive screens were anywhere and everywhere? Emerging screen technologies might actually lead to an increasing number of public screens on the walls and windows of buildings. Since the attention economy is an arms race, this could lead to a growing visual noise around us. For example, we can expect the use of moving graphics to increase since it grabs our attention more than static images and text. Then what happens when people learn to ignore overwhelming public visuals? What types of strategies can be used so screen messages don’t drown in the visual noise of others?

One possible approach could be a system where screens “collaborate” with others so each message gets a chance to be seen. For example, messages could wait for their time to shine and then they can cover many screens at once. Other screens might try to capture our attention by being useful. By offering different types of services, interactive screens could make people stay longer and actually notice sponsored messages. Basic services such as maps, time tables and tourist information would probably be similar to those we use for free on the web today. Still, big screens in pubic spaces also enable entirely new experiences, such as multiuser interactions.

Right now, I’m about get involved in a design exploration around interactive screens for a new building. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the types of experiences public and social screens can offer.