A vision of invisible technology

Let’s think about the purpose of technology in our lives.  We have needs, and it is the purpose of certain technologies to satisfy some of these needs.  This may sound like a simplistic view, but it can actually be applied to a wide range of technology and how we interact with it.

Suppose I want to know what the weather will be like today.  I have a specific need.  I pick up my phone, unlock it, find the weather app, and launch it.  The weather app dials out to a service, returns the weather data and displays it in the form of graphics that tell me if I should bring an umbrella to work today.

In the above example, I had to take a lot of steps to satisfy my need.  I believe that each of the steps that have to be taken before my need is satisfied is a failure of technology to satisfy my need.  The more steps it takes, the greater the failure.  The ultimate goal of any technology should be to satisfy the need of its user as efficiently as possible, without drawing attention to itself.  Too many technological devices these days try really hard to draw attention to themselves, with glossy touch screens, colorful graphics and slick interfaces.   This, I believe is only a phase that will pass.

I believe that in the future technology will become less and less visible.  Technology will find ways to satisfy our needs in the least number of steps necessary, which will require it to be less and less visible to us.  In the weather example, all I really needed to know was whether or not to bring my umbrella.  Assuming that the future will still have umbrella-like devices, technology only needs to indicate to me, before I leave the house that I need my umbrella-like device.  But even the way in which this indication happens does not have to reveal the technology behind it.

Technology is getting smaller at an exponential rate.  Things that used to take up an entire room now fit in the palm of our hands.  Things that used to fit in the palm of our hand are now so small that you cannot see them.  In another 20 years, technology will have no excuse to be visible in terms of scale.

The way in which we interface with technology is evolving as well. We already have devices with which we can interact using only our thoughts. Technology can learn from and predict behaviors, adapting accordingly.  Imagine technology that can predict our behavior, take input from our thoughts and satisfy our needs without ever making itself visible.

5 Replies to A vision of invisible technology

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