Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Technology Must Disappear to be Successful

Smartphones and tablets have been taking the personal computing space by storm in recent years. And yet, they are destined for the dustbin. Eventually they may be viewed as a flash in the pan.

The problem is they are too obtrusive. They are clumsy and get in the way. And nobody wants to carry devices around all the time. Not really.

Also, they get in the way of inter-personal interaction. They are a diversion that we don't need in a fast moving world. Technology needs to integrate with personal interaction, not interfere with it.

As technology evolves, the ultimate goal should be to make it invisible. There's an old saying - "we know a technology is successful when it disappears." A good example is HTML. That's the language that is used to build web pages. Way back in the dark ages of technology, lets say in the 1980's, when people were beginning to experiment with their own websites, they had to program them in HTML. Gradually web development tools came into use and HTML was no longer visible to the users. It is still there, but has disappeared.

Remember StarTrek? Most people do and some still watch it on the history channel or, perhaps more likely, on Netflix. The personal computers on StarTrek were accessed by tapping a lapel badge worn on the user's chest. Their interface with the computer was oral. They talked and the computer talked back.

That technology is much easier to imagine now than it was 25 years ago. A wearable badge capable of accessing the internet? Sure. An application talking to you like a person? (We already have that, an example being Apple's Siri). Very simple.

We are currently working hard on wearable technologies. Eventually, computing devices will disappear. But they will still be around and will be more successful than ever.

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