Publishers should use their imagination, rather than existing technology, to spark future trends

Peeters began by giving us an insight into the presence of immersive digital experiences in physical spaces, particularly in the luxury retail sector.

“Where they make their money is in their stores,” said Peeters. “And so their stores are kind of their temples, and you shouldn’t touch them! So you won’t find many luxury brands that have immersive digital in-store experiences. Burberry is one of them, Jaeger LeCoultre is a second one, but I have trouble to think about a third. Certainly in terms of who has it in all of their stores, or their flagship stores. Maybe in one somewhere far away, in Asia or the US, but not as part of a strategy.” 

While the debate surrounding whether virtual reality or augmented reality represents the future of real-world immersive digital experiences, Peeters sees a lessening divide between the two sets of technologies.  

“It will be a merger of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality, whatever that may be. Virtual reality looks quite clumsy, with those big goggles on your head. So the technology – with smart-lenses for example – will improve, and that will help more people to do virtual reality. Actually this was filed for patent last year by Samsung – it’s a contact lens with a camera and a disc player in it. A contact lens! It will not be by improving the current VR goggles [that accelerates AR/VR] there will be a leap-frog somewhere.”

When asked which forms of technology publishers should specifically be looking to add into their strategic portfolio, Peeters warned against the idea of placing too much emphasis on the technology itself.   

“They should not look to technology. They should use their imagination. Because technology is boring and it will limit them. There are projects out there where people have used artificial intelligence. Classical music has been written with the help of AI. There is a new painting by Rembrandt – it’s not a real Rembrandt of course – but they used all the data of the old, original Rembrandt paintings to paint with a 3D printer, a new Rembrandt. That painting is now touring all over the world and every expert says ‘Wow it’s a real Rembrandt!’ But it’s not a real one, it was made last year.” 

“There are people out there who use their imagination. So I hope there are people in the publishing business and the wider media business who use their imagination and who use AI to come up with something new and revolutionary. Think about the unthinkable. And if that makes sense somehow, then try to build it. And not, ‘Hey, this is a piece of tech what can we do with it?’”  

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