Corning’s marvelous industrial video “A Day Made of Glass” was a well-deserved sensation last year when it YouTubed its way out of the usual b2b venues and into general circulation. In Corning’s self-serving vision, touchscreens coated in its glassware were pretty much everywhere. And to its credit, the company gave us one of those rare branded industrial videos that could recall the great era of AT&T Bell Labs short films. Remember when the geeky AV guy (that would have been me) brought in the 16-mm Bell and Howell projector to show us a Bell Labs film of a world of computers and video phones? Okay -- maybe I just dated myself there.
Anyway, this year Corning kicks it up a notch now that it knows millions are watching. In this sequel to the original sensation (which was all visual and not narrated) we get a suitably scruffy/trendy/jeans and jacketed/ British-accented guide to this day of connected glass. This one is fun too, but lacks the lyrical fantasy of the original wordless production. Still, it provides some interesting insights into how Corning and others are conceptualizing the post-PC future.
Notice in the first scene how the tablet is the driving processor. The girl’s closet door is mirroring apps that are shared from the tablet rather than some core home network. The content is contextually aware, and scales between small and large displays. They regard the tablet here as the “primary computing device.” The tablet can communicate with surrounding screens, such as a glass car dashboard display and windows. In school, the tablet ties in with glass chalkboard and display desktops.
Of course, with a thin, always-connected window-like tablet throughout the day, they envision augmented reality as pretty much a standard way of overlaying data in contextually relevant or entertaining ways onto the view of the world. In this scenario the tablet and its camera view become an AR window onto anything at which you point it.
While much of Corning’s vision is a corporate wet dream, of course, the underlying architecture is one in which the devices are no longer just retrieving data, but are aware of one another and working together to push and pull data to a multiplicity of screens in different contexts. The bandwidth required will be massive (yeah, they have Corning optical fiber for that too). But so will be the need for highly intelligent mobile operating systems that are working in increasingly personalized, contextually adaptive ways. Machine-to-machine communication, learning and security may be the next big choke point on our path to Corning’s slick future.