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The future of wayfinding

About the Talk

November 25, 2009 3:00 PM

Lighthouse, Brighton

Lighthouse, Brighton

We've got pretty good at helping people find their way through today's digital world. Information architecture, taking cues from physical architecture, has built a toolkit of wayfinding aids including menus, breadcrumbs, signage. But things are about to get a lot more interesting.

The boundaries between the abstract digital world and the real physical world are becoming blurred. GPS has made the A-Z map redundant. RFID chips will soon enable a world of "spimes", where our environment can tell us all about itself and how we should interact with it. Geolocation offers an immersive augmented reality where data combines with space in revolutionary ways. Our landmarks are now both physical and digital. One day, a church spire; the next, a WiFi cloud. Our old wayfinding methods will soon be as outdated as the sextant.

Even now, people are beginning to use new technology to annotate and enrich their surroundings. Location-driven technology is most powerful in the hands of local users, and it is our responsibility as designers to ensure that these systems are accessible, collaborative and safe.

Given this quantum leap, we need new approaches to wayfinding, information scent and navigation. This session will explore how we can we use information architecture to shape the chaos. How can we design systems for both the digital and physical world that allow users to orientate themselves, understand the choices available, and feel at home?

Participants will take away a new understanding of the exciting challenges ahead of us, including the role of mobile devices, the ubiquitous information age, and the privacy implications of our new location-critical lives.

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