Sunday, 4 December 2011

The future - gamification and augmented reality

I remember many years ago saying to my children that one day, when they walked around London or any capital city, they’d be able to hold up their phone in front of a statue or building and information would appear on screen explaining what the statue commemorated, etc.
But how about if you could hold up your phone in front of the mainframe or some x86 server, and on screen would appear statistics about usage and performance? You could then take appropriate action to resolve hot spots and capacity issues. All just a dream? Apparently not.
Beverley Head’s blog at IT Wire ( from last week suggests that BMC is exploring how it can harness gamification and augmented reality techniques in the next generation of its systems management tools. Beverley reports Suhas Kelkar, a chief technology officer for BMC, describing the server example I gave above. Suhas adds: “If someone comes across an intelligent solution they should add it to the knowledge base. But hardly anyone does it. But what if you gamify the system and reward people for doing that?”
So there we have it... Augmented reality is the appearance on your phone of information about server capacity. And it could be about anything else. Wouldn’t it be great to hold your phone over a cable and read off the upstream and downstream broadband speeds?
Gamification – a new word, so try to drop into conversations, if you want to sound up-to-date – then is the fun part of using software. The part that is all too often missing!
Interestingly, I found an article about gamification from back in May this year at Daniel Nitsikopoulos talks about “Gamification: Making fun of the web”. He asserts that: “Gamification is one of the newest and I believe one of the biggest movements in the creative world today. It is the concept that you can apply game mechanics (elements that make games fun, engaging, and in some cases competitive) to things that aren’t typically considered a game, or even fun! From work, to health, to socialising, to cooking, to just about anything!”
So if BMC is looking at gamification and augmented reality, you can bet CA Technologies is as well. And that other big software supplier, IBM! But I would bet that the really exciting stuff is going to come from smaller companies. And I would also predict that these smaller companies will one-by-one be swallowed up by the existing software giants.
It definitely gets my vote as a direction I’d like technology to move in. Some equivalent to Google Goggles that not only identifies what you’re looking at (the Web server, or the z/Linux LPAR, or whatever) and provides current performance information. And then makes it fun to resolve any problems that might have been identified. Maybe when you look at the x86 server, it appears in red if there are issues. Then the length of time you take to resolve the problem is entered onto a leader board. And at the end of the week you can see who is the fastest techie in your team! Or perhaps the only green screen you’ll see will mean ‘game over’!

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