We’re barely catching our breath, keeping up with the social networking technology that Web 2.0 applications require. Yet already, designers and marketers alike are buzzing about Web 3.0, even though nobody seems to be able to specifically define what that means. Nonetheless, most experts predict high-speed, wide-bandwidth applications that will be able to deliver content wherever and whenever you want it, regardless of format or platform. Web 3.0 will even come to devices as mundane as, say, picture frames.
Each eStarling photo frame from PF Digital has Wi-Fi capability and its own e-mail address (see the figure). Users can e-mail their pictures as attachments directly to the frame from their computers or even their mobile phones. The frame automatically detaches the photos and displays them within a couple of minutes. A built-in filter protects against unwanted pictures. Users don’t need any kind of setup software on their computers or phones to send photos to the frame. Also, the frame can e-mail these photos directly to other frames or e-mail accounts.
The eStarling offers social networking capabilities as well. Users can log into their eStarling Seeframe Live accounts and access their own and their friends’ Facebook photos, which then will stream into the frame. When these friends upload new images to their Facebook pages, the images will automatically appear in the frame as well. The frame also supports all major RSS photo feeds, including Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, AOL, Smugmug, iPhoto, Gallery, and more.
That’s a lot of content, but eStarling’s 256-Mbyte onboard flash memory, 802.11b/g connection, and external ac adapter can handle it all. It also offers an MMC/SD/CF/MS card slot, USB 2.0 host, and client port. Its 8-in., 800- by 600-pixel LCD uses a built-in high-speed JPEG decoder/rendering engine. Compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista and Mac OS X, the eStarling can even receive and display text messages through its Seeframe Live account or from authorized e-mail accounts and cell phones.
“This is a revolutionary idea for social networking,” says Jeff Lou, president of PF Digital. “It’s a great way to stay in touch with your friends in a novel fashion that doesn’t require you to access your computer. Your Web 2.0 social networking relationships can now talk directly to non-PC devices. It’s a great way to bring your Web relationships into your living room.”
Priced at $199, the eStarling model WPF-288B Wi-Fi photo frame may represent the first technology that allows social networking outlets to talk to consumer products, but it won’t be the last. Designers would do well to consider similar applications in their next projects.