We can’t see the future, yet we’re forced keep up with change at an ever-increasing rate. To guide their decisions, businesses develop theories about the world as it will be: a vision of the future. Corporate vision videos are a genre of film that tell these future stories. Below is a collection of vision videos.
By Jim Kalbach
Corporate vision videos date back to the 1940s. (See the first video in the list below, for example). Companies in many industries — often tech-related industries — have spend a great deal of time and money creating such videos. The intent is to demonstrate a concrete hypothesis of the future that not only drives initiatives and investments, but also provides inspiration.
Vision videos are not product demonstrations or videos of lab invention. The don’t showcase a real or existing piece of technology. Rather, vision videos show the impact of a new technology or type of interaction on people. They explicitly describe a proposed future experience for humans.
Yet, at the same time, vision videos aren’t science fiction. It’s not about telling a fantasy. Instead, vision videos are grounded in some sense of reality. They show theories of a believable future. That’s what makes them compelling.
Critiques of such videos point to a lack of correlation between such videos and actual company success. Writing about Google Glass for Time Techland, Harry McCraken proclaims: “I don’t see any evidence that they actually help the companies involved to do great things.”
But such videos aren’t meant to be practical. Instead, they are symbols of the future, and they provide a common view of a future that teams and entire companies can rally around. Writing about the value of having a common vision, UX expert Jared Spool says:
Visions act like a flag stuck into the sand somewhere on the horizon. The team can clearly see the flag, yet it’s far enough away that they won’t reach it any time soon. Because the flag is clearly visible, the team knows if every step they take brings them closer or farther away. If the flag weren’t visible, the team wouldn’t know and could wander off in an undesirable direction.
Having a clear vision helps the team understand if changes are moving them in the right direction or not. Occasionally, due to pressing business needs, a design change is going to move the team away from the vision. However, if everyone understands the vision, they’ll know when this is happening and can act to correct it.
Therein lies the value of corporate vision videos: providing a visible path for the company to follow.
Below is a collection of public vision videos, listed in chronological order from the oldest to the newest. The year indicates the date the video was filmed, not the year it was projected.
General Motors’ “To New Horizons” (1940)
Filmed in 1940, this video tells the story of the transport in the future of 1960. This film has a very long intro before getting to the “future vision” part at around 9:00 minute mark.
The Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
Philco-Ford “1999 A.D.” (1967)
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHlDmJn6u4E&feature=relmfu
Apple, “The Knowledge Navigator” (1987)
SUN Microsystems, “Starfire” (1993)
Adaptive Path, “Aurora (Web browser) Concept Video”(2009)
Microsoft, “Productivity Vision Video” (2010)
TAT, “Future of Screen Technology” (2010)