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Michael Batty, Hui Lin and Min Chen

Virtual reality (VR) has entered geography in various guises over the last 20 years, building on the basic notion that, when users of digital technology need to be immersed in the experience of computation, then special purpose technologies and environments must be built to make this possible. We review the brief history of this field and then focus on four distinct developments that mark contemporary technologies: 3D representations which are best seen in virtual city models, virtual worlds which mix humans, computable agents and geographic motion, virtual geographic environments (VGEs) which integrate model processes and users in integrated collaborative spaces, and augmented realities which mix the real and the virtual using analogies which incorporate mixed and blended virtual environments. We conclude by arguing that the use of VR in geography is by no means in a stable state and that we might expect quite profound developments in these technologies where users and computers are integrated in diverse and surprising ways in the not-too-distant future.

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Francesco Lapenta

This chapter describes how methods and theories developing within the field of future-oriented technology analysis can be implemented in technology- dependent innovation and research practices. It focuses on and defines one such method – technology-oriented scenario analysis, and departs from the premise that technology and information technologies have become structural drivers of change, and the awareness that any medium- or long-term innovation plan cannot exclude reflections about probable and possible future technological developments. The chapter presents combined theoretical and methodological models that explain the theoretical premises of contemporary methods based on future foresight and future forecast (ranging from traditional expert knowledge and speculative foresight to contemporary “algorithmic predictive computing” and artificial intelligence-based analysis of big data). It argues that technology forecast and foresight methods should be understood as new, necessary, and dynamic processes of organizational intelligence, designed to activate key and dependent actors to participate in a constant innovation process inspired by, and aware of, these possible future technological scenarios. The chapter details the steps involved in technology-oriented scenario analysis, and describes how this method can be implemented and used by businesses or other institutional entities to prepare, or contribute towards shaping, these possible future scenarios.

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Ada Scupola

This chapter illustrates the application of Future Workshops to engage users and employees in services innovation. The overall aim is to develop innovation ideas that can be useful and beneficial to service organizations, in collaboration, however, between the organizations and the researchers, in the frames of engaged scholarship (Van de Ven, 2007). The specific organization where the Future Workshops were conducted was Roskilde University Library (RUB). The purpose of the Future Workshops was to get ideas to improve the library’s face-to-face, electronic services (e-services) as well as the library’s physical facilities. The major finding of the study is that Future Workshops can be a useful method for engaging research in services innovation both from a practice and a research point of view.

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Daniel Sui

This chapter offers a comprehensive look at location-based services (LBS), which deploy users’ spatial locations to provide individually tailored outcomes. It summarizes the technical aspects of LBS, including RFID tags, and then turns to key applications. For individuals, LBS not only offers convenient information, but also can be used to track children or people with dementia. For businesses, LBS has become central to the so-called ‘sharing economy’ (e.g. Uber) as well as marketing and geofencing to delineate specified areas digitally. Governments also use LBS, such as for emergency management or to deploy citizens as sensors. The chapter also looks at concerns about LBS such as privacy, inequality and environmental sustainability.

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Catherine Wilkinson

The literature on geography and radio is notably scarce. Though regrettable, the largely dormant study of radio in the geography literature is not unsurprising, owing to geography’s emphasis on landscapes over soundscapes. This chapter turns attention to the portable soundscape of radio. In particular, it presents the origins and historical context of radio, and theoretical perspectives on the study of radio by scholars across the globe. Further, it highlights conceptual debates about how radio has been studied by geographers. The spatial perspective of radio is outlined, and technological convergences in relation to radio are considered, with a particular focus on radio in the digital age. This chapter concludes by arguing that few studies devote sufficient attention to radio for what it is, a sonic medium. As such, this chapter advocates that future studies of radio should adopt a sonic geographical perspective to enable exploration of radio’s new sounds and forms, which comprise increasing creativity.

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Paul L. Robertson

Technological diffusion occurs when an existing technological artefact or concept is used for a different purpose, by a different person or organisation, or in a different location than it has been previously used at. Diffusion is a vital component of economic change because it is the mechanism through which new technologies spread to long-standing industries in developed countries, leading to increases in productivity and greater efficiency in resource use. Diffusion also underlies economic development on a global basis as existing technologies, and even entire industries, migrate from traditional centres of economic strength to less developed regions. This chapter examines technological diffusion between firms in the same industries and analyses the role of geography in diffusion within regional, national and international frameworks. It discusses factors that facilitate diffusion as well as barriers, and points out both benefits and possible losses that may result.

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Ramon Lobato

This chapter uses the case of Netflix to investigate the spatial logics of video-on-demand services. Drawing on concepts from the interdisciplinary field of television geography, I explain key differences between over-the-top, satellite and broadcast delivery systems, and explore the theoretical implications for understanding television’s spatial dynamics in the internet age. Topics discussed include infrastructure, content licensing, regulation, consumer circumvention and platform space. The aim is not to provide a comprehensive account of these areas, each of which has its own extensive technical literature, but rather to explain how key concepts used within television geography can be productively revisited and rethought for the streaming age.

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Jordan P. Howell

Science and Technology Studies – or alternatively, Science, Technology, and Society (in either instance, abbreviated as STS) – is a field of academic inquiry that has emerged primarily in the United States and Western Europe since the end of World War II. STS scholars and practitioners seek to illuminate both ideological and practical dimensions of the creation and dissemination of scientific knowledge, asking incisive questions about the ways in which knowledge is constructed and translated for/by multiple audiences. This chapter focuses on the origins, trends and intellectual contributions of STS which are presented in light of the fruitful ways that the field might be combined with Geography. Many traditions of scholarship within Geography ask questions about the nature and construction of both scientific knowledge and technological systems, and this chapter encourages geographers to build on these frequently implicit mobilizations of STS’s ethos and more explicitly apply STS literature in their work.

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Flemming Sørensen and Francesco Lapenta

This introductory chapter of the service innovation research methods book introduces the aim and purpose of the book. It describes the theoretical framework that underpins the book and its individual chapters. The framework includes considerations about a) the theoretical and methodological dimensions of service innovation, b) contemporary trends in service innovation and research, and c) society’s expectations of service innovation research. Additionally, the chapter introduces the content of the individual chapters and thus provides an overview of the contents of the book.

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Claire Esther Staddon Forder

Triple helix frameworks, a concept evolving from the knowledge economy, are innovation frameworks caused by the positive overlap of policy–industry–academia which become locked into a new structure offering innovation potential. These structures are typically known as triple helix projects. This chapter examines the development of a triple helix project, and looks at which service innovation and research potentials and barriers are embedded in triple helix projects due to inherently diverse helical worldviews. The chapter reveals which helical worldview characteristics foster service innovation and research, and which worldviews can hinder service innovation and research due to unbridgeable worldview differences. Finally, a discussion of the implications these worldview differences have for service innovation and research is undertaken, and suggestions about how to bridge seemingly unbridgeable worldview gaps are offered.