The IFTF Blog
The New Body Language Collection
This story originally appeared in the inaugural issue of IFTF's magazine, Future Now.
A Framework and Scenarios for Understanding Body Area Networks
In the next decade, as computational power and connectivity get built into virtually everything, reconfiguring our experiences of personal technologies will be as simple as putting on a jacket or removing a pair of shoes. At a technical level, this is the story of an emerging world of body area networks—where devices in, on and around the body can be reconfigured throughout the day to enhance situational experiences.
In 2015, we explored this new tech frontier in our inaugural issue of Future Now. Here, we share two key excerpts from that issue, which will help immerse you in this coming world and think critically about how you might live, work or play in it.
Scenarios of a Generational Shift
The future appears as a strange, distant vision but meets us as a familiar, comfortable present, each step along the way offering us fluency in the new languages our technologies enable.
These three scenarios take us into futures where body area networks teeter on the brink of familiarity, a generation from now. Heads of state and protesters on the street alike adopt this new technology. It’s there for the most intimate moments of our lives and the most shocking turning points in history. The scenarios depict strikingly different uses of this new body language—drawing our attention to how intentions may be highly individual, but interact in dizzyingly complex ways.
Expressions of the New Body Language
At the personal level, the transformation brought on by Body Area Network technologies will be intimate and profound: We will see the rise of an entirely new kind of body language, mediated by a constantly evolving suite of personal technologies. Ranging from personal and secretive to wildly aggressive, this new body language will alter how we use wearable and implantable technologies to express our deepest social, cultural, and professional aspirations.
And like body language, the expressions of our technology-infused bodies will vary profoundly through personal, cultural, and situational differences. Body area networks will amplify both our natural commonalities and create countless variations of human+machine symbiosis. As this new body language emerges, it will require new frameworks to define technologies and strategies that empower people to enact these personal expressions.
With this framework, we give you a tool to explore the landscape through the lens of human intentions, as well as several examples of balances people can strike using this kind of technology.
The New Body Language research is collected in its entirety in our inaugural issue of Future Now, IFTF’s new print magazine.
Most pieces in this issue focus on the human side of Human+Machine Symbiosis—how body area networks will augment the intentions and expressions that play out in our everyday lives. Some pieces illuminate the subtle, even invisible technologies that broker our outrageous level of connection—the machines that feed off our passively generated data and varying motivations. Together, they create a portrait of how and why we’ll express ourselves with this new body language in the next decade.
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