The Object Network

This is a story about the future experiences of Sam, who is describing a day in her life with an Object Network wearable - AR glasses.


I was woken by the alarm on my Object Network glasses by my bed. I put them on and turned off the alarm with a simple dismissing gesture. I could see the cool clock I'd chosen. Everything in this view is in 3D, so this clock looks pretty realistic.

I used the swipes you use to move around in the 3D world to pull back from this clock into my home space. I saw the familiar bright, white room I'd chosen. Quite Greek, with pillars.

Outside beyond these pillars I could see the broad sky, which is subtly divided up into segments for each hour, showing the weather forecast for that period. It was 8am, so that segment was slightly highlighted; it showed white cloud, which was pretty much what was going on outside in reality. The current weather outside corresponds in the virtual scene - even giving you a rain animation to look at if that's what's happening! By mid-morning it was showing sun symbols in each segment. Excellent!, I thought, we'll go on a trip today.

I looked around: along with some choice photos that I like, scattered around on the walls, there are three "scrolls", as they're called, on the marble walls here. A scroll is basically what it sounds like - a long strip of what looks like paper, rolled top and bottom. You can swipe it to make it move up and down. They contain a list of items or a merge of a number of lists.

The first scroll is my news choice - currently it was showing local news but I can flip to world news or news about work by touching buttons on the top. These are generally pictures and text in order of time.

The second scroll is my social network - basically the same but it's a merge of the news lists from my contacts. I can add a link to the news stream of a person I know, and this scroll merges it in with all the others.

Finally, my calendar, which slowly auto-scrolls throughout the day, so I can see what's on now and what's coming up. This is a list of event items - or more precisely a list of links to event objects.

Normally when I wake up and have checked the weather-sky, I go through each of these scrolls and see what's going on today. If you touch a scroll, or a photo on the wall, your view slides quickly in to align you to it and to fill your view with it.

Holiday festival

Today, though, was a holiday. I was away at the home town of my friend, Charlie, staying in a small hotel as she doesn't have room in her family house for guests. So I first touched the local news scroll to see what was on. Being a holiday destination, I soon found an article with highlights, plus a link to the tourist information office.

I jumped the link to the tourist info and found myself in a large room with numerous pictures on the walls of local attractions. There were other people's avatars wandering around, and a central desk with a couple of staff.

I went up and avatar-chatted to one of them, who pointed me to a handy calendar of events. I grabbed its link and returned to my home, pasting the link to the wall next to my other scrolls. A scroll just like my calendar scroll appeared.

You can grab the link of anything at any time - everything has a link, the whole virtual world is built of stuff linking to stuff all around the planet: places, rooms, containers, events, people, messages, photos.

You can usually tell when something's a link, because it's a nested or embedded mini-something. Touching it either makes it expand right up to the size of the object containing it, or jumps you completely to a new location. You can also jump links to new locations by simply walking to them.

I swiped the events calendar up and down looking for something fun. Right there was just what I was looking for: a festival of local bands and groups. I pasted the link of the festival event onto my own calendar, which then placed it in the correct timeslot, as a reduced version of itself.

Selecting this mini festival link there turned my whole calendar scroll into this sub-calendar, filling up the space formerly taken by the scroll, and I scanned the info. Each band or group had its own event or sub-event, and within that a contact card for the band.

If you went to that link then at that point you were pretty deep in the pile and have covered a great deal of ground. It goes: my calendar on my glasses, festival event on the servers owned by the organisers, each band event, each band contact on their own servers or maybe a home hub. To get back up a level you just hit the back button, like on a browser, and the view shrinks back down to its mini version.

This festival event didn't just link to its sub-events but also linked to a contact card - owned and hosted by the park administrators - giving all the info you need to get there. Event objects are coloured and rendered slightly differently to contact card objects, so you get to know what type each thing is.

The Plan

Keen to tell Charlie my plan, I posted a new item on the social network scroll, on the group we have going for us and our close friends. This new item was just some text - "what do you think?" - plus the festival event object link. The mini-festival representation appeared below the text.

Pretty soon, she'd replied "looks great! let's go. see you there at 11?".

I then went outside through the pillars, where in front of me I had laid out a map, which in scale terms would be the size of my little Greek house's garden. You do this kind of thing with links of course: there's a link from my home to the map with an offset to position it where you want. Then you also need a link back again to make the house appear correctly positioned relative to the map. As you move across from house to map, your "current link" jumps accordingly, so the back button also works as expected.

The map showed my current location with a pin, showing my face, sticking up out of the ground. You can move your point-of-view to that point, or move independently on virtual land, but watch yourself move on physical land.

A map is actually little more than a list of objects with locations, with the list type set to hint that this would be a good representation, although you could just view the items in the list as a scroll if you wanted. In the other direction, a calendar - being just a list of events - can be set to render as a map, too, with each event plotted at the location where it is being held. Another example is the list of attendees to an event - you could merge that into the list of another map, and so on.

The weather-sky object takes the location it applies to from a link to something with a geo position, such as a person, a contact object, an event with a location, or a map object. I had linked my weather to this map, so that as I moved the map around, the sky would change accordingly to the weather for that location.

I pasted the link to the festival down on the map at my feet - thus adding it to the map's list - and another, square pin appeared a few metres away, at the correct location. A touch or two later, and a blue route snaked its way from my pin to the festival pin.

I grabbed the link to the whole map and pasted it to the social network scroll. This means we can actually use the same map, which is fun. I had to set permissions for Charlie to both view and interact with the map, before this can work. Interaction means she can add herself and anything else to the map.

Sure enough, Charlie's location pin appeared on the map over her home, along with her separate avatar wandering the map. Another blue route also appeared to the festival from her home. We chatted using avatar speech bubbles. Since we were both on WiFi, this conversation and our movements were really snappy and reliable, as they were sent over the internet directly from my device to hers.

At a quarter to eleven, I set off. I could already see that Charlie was on her way, as her avatar pin was moving down its blue line. I was quite near to the park, so was walking, but Charlie lived slightly out of town and was taking the bus.

Now we were both on 3G it was all a bit more jittery, partly due to our going via online servers, since mobile operators still don't allow direct connections.

I briefly switched to AR mode, panning around the map by turning my whole body, which meant that I could literally point to Charlie and her avatar as they progressed to our common destination.

Creating a trip experience map

I arrived first, and took some photos of the park and some happy-looking people. These pictures appeared at the top of another scroll stack, so I grabbed a link from the best two and plotted them on the map. They appeared right next to my avatar on the map, as of course, photos carry the GPS location they were taken at.

Charlie obviously saw them, because a picture of the rather uninspiring view outside her bus window appeared on her blue route line!

I knew exactly when Charlie would arrive, of course, because I could see her moving on the map. She left a few more funny pictures, of grumpy people and so-on. Meanwhile, I "walked" across the map to the event scroller in the middle of the park and picked out a band we'd both like and be able to see next. I posted the link to that sub-event to our social net group stream for Charlie to read, and added it to the map as well.

Then I wandered around the festival park, taking more interesting pictures and pinning them to the virtual park.

I switched to AR mode just as the real and virtual Charlies each arrived ahead of me to their respective parks. We caught up and looked around some more, before going to the band stage in time to see them.

After that, we noticed there was a talk by a local author, but spaces were limited, so you had to RSVP to the sub-event. We both signed up, taking two of the last three places from 30. The attendee list was published on the sub-event, which is basically just a list of links to the people objects of attendees, or their contact cards.

I grabbed a link to this list, and pasted it onto the map, which merges the lists. 27 avatars appeared on the map, milling around the festival. Fun, and quite useful: when we went to get a drink, we noticed we were right next to a couple of other attendees, and so struck up a conversation with them about the author. We grabbed each other's contact card links and tacked them to the walls of our homes to look at later.

When the event was about to begin, everyone's avatar pins converged on the tent where the event was held. A couple of people appeared or vanished as they updated their RSVP, which updated the attendee list.

By late afternoon, we'd seen four bands - each sub-event posted to the map - eaten great food and taken plenty of photos - many pinned to the map, too.

Sharing the experience

I suggested that our friends and family back home would like to visit this virtual map or park, so we sat in the bar and did some cleaning up, helped by the fact that the bar had WiFi and we could interact directly again. We removed the link to the author event attendee list and the daft or inappropriate photos and then each added some nice photos from our own photo scrolls. Both of us were wandering around the map like in Minecraft, working together to co-create something interesting.

I unlinked the map object from outside my marble-pillared home and created a new one in its place, so that we could share this one. I went to the social network scroll and selected the friends-and-family group. That's just a list of links to the relevant people, so when I posted the map link to the group, it automatically added view-only permission to the map for this same list.

Before long, we were getting appreciative comments back from everyone. I added the map link to a list of best memories that I keep which renders as a wooden chest in my virtual home.

Charlie saw that and my marble home, and asked to look around. I added the appropriate permissions, and she joined me there. She picked up a couple of links she liked: to the clock and the local news, and to some photos I'd taken. Before long, her own virtual home was enhanced accordingly.

Building a virtual world from links to live stuff

In the Object Network, everything is just "links to live stuff" that is always available, viewable and interactable whether local or remote.

You're in an unlimited world of links to places with links to property and more places. You navigate this world by exploring these links: expanding them in-place, moving towards something and focusing, jumping into the place linked or crossing over into it by "walking" in the 3D world. You can even visit someone else's home on their hub and grab links to things you like and reuse them yourself.

You can grab links to anything (not just web pages like we're used to) and reuse them, paste them on your home wall, paste them to your social network, paste them onto your calendar, onto a map, whatever. You can view lists of links to things as scrolls, maps, boxes, etc. You can merge lists of things. You can link to people - avatars and contact cards - as well as to places and property. Things can build upon or depend on other things simply through wiring up links.

Why that's good

In the Object Network, everything's in one space and works together in intuitive ways.

Because everything has a link, you are in complete control - links are tangible handles on live virtual people, places and property and can be used to weave your digital world together, easily sharing and collaborating on it with others and building on each other's work.

Links can point to things on any computer, from your wearable to your home hub to an online server. This means the Object Network space has no boundaries or limits and can span the globe.


I and my family and friends have been using the Object Network for some months now, and we spend most of our "digital time" in it, at home or out and about.

It's really the evolution of the web, although for us, it's become just "the internet". It actually feels like we've returned to the early vision and ambitions of the internet and the web, that everything should be open, two-way and seamless.

Duncan Cragg, 2016

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