Co.Design

Can Media Be More Ubiquitous Yet Less Invasive? Dentsu and Berg Show How

The beauty's in the details, in two fascinating concepts for the future of rich media consumption.

The creative brains at Dentsu London and Berg London have teamed up to produce a pair of short films on a decisively lofty topic: the future of media surfaces.

The agencies, whom you might recall from their brilliant collaboration on iPad light paintings, visualize a world in which information is somehow both more ubiquitous and less intrusive. TV screens will double as Twitter feeds and Foursquare check-in logs. Shop windows will be quietly animated. And train-ticket machines will do the unthinkable: They'll tell you where to find your train and when.

The first video (above) zeroes in on train travel. The basic principle here is to use media to make your trip smoother and even a little fun. So aside from the practical stuff — better signage, ticket machines that work like full-service travel agents, etc. — you've got things like tickers that run whimsical commute stats and tickets printed with info about landmarks you'll pass on your train ride.

The second film covers media pretty much everywhere else, from your home to your stores. Some of the clever ideas include: an alarm clock that flashes train and traffic delays; a screen that post social-media updates, even when you're not using it (in the same way a clock always tells time); and receipts printed out with current news headlines.

The point with all of it: More media is just fine, provided it's in the right context so that it's useful. If so, we might be surrounded by data without ever really noticing it.

We're written lots about futuristic interfaces, which usually hinge on some sort of novel technology. Berg and Dentsu emphasize that they're repackaging modes of communication that already exist. "There's no real new technology at play in any of these ideas," Berg writes on its blog about the train film, "just different connections and flows of information being made in the background ? quietly, gradually changing how screens, bits of print ephemera such as train tickets, and objects in the world can inter-relate to make someone's journey that bit less stressful, that bit more delightful." More here.

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  • Sarah MacKinnon

    I take issue with the "Incidental Media" piece in that it encourages the complete waste of energy of devices that are typically in the off position. It's an interesting concept to explore surfaces which are seemingly vacant until we demand interaction, but until we can figure out a way to resolve the very real energy crisis we are currently engaged in, concepts like this are irresponsible to even suggest.