The advent of the smartphone is both incredibly helpful for humanity and a medium that can distract from the more important things. Though now your GPS also predicts the weather, emails your friends, checks your Facebook, plays music, controls your TV and heat, and oh yeah makes phone calls because it’s a phone.
As useful as the smartphone is, the average user looks at it every 16 seconds. And texting and driving is the #1 killer of American teens four times what drunk driving kills. In answer to the lookdown, flipup, interruption problem, we’ve created new digital objects to try to fix that and have tech only help and not bother us as much as possible.
The hype of the wearable tech and those exclusive users that had the privilege of running into walls and talking to themselves in public was cut short last year so that Glass could be re-invented by Google with the help of Samsung.
A lot of users complained that people would be afraid to interact with them for fear that they were always being recorded or accessible by the internet world (which in essence would be true). Also, there is the problem similar to that of data on your car windshield: the interruption of data in your peripheral vision that can interfere with life more than aid it.
Hence the move back to R&D.
Microsoft just launched something more in the direction of uninterruption: the augmented reality HoloLens: glasses that project onto what is already in the room. Now there can be a clock on the wall, weather report, film, or what have you where you want it and when but only for you the wearer of the Lens. This tech takes us away from the Glass problem of interruption of your direct vision, and the applications of this are almost endless: imagine a computer game projected on top of physical obstacles in the room, while imaginary “bad guys” come at you from all sides, taking into account the glass on the table so you don’t karate shatter that to death.
Now you can walk into a room and project information out onto people, places, and things. Useful, but not all the way there yet. Take off the glasses, and the superpower is gone.
Though much anticipated, this new wearable from the iPhone creators is getting a mixed reception. The idea is interesting: take away the need to pull your smartphone out 100 of the 150 times a day but instead access custom notifications on your wrist.
Apple Watch provides that detachment from the handheld device to some degree, but without a Bluetooth, you still need the phone to make calls and cannot manoeuvre as much on a small screen as you would on a full-sized phone. It does have a pretty cool noiseless “ping” notifier: get a tap no one else in the room can feel or hear when you get that text, email, or Facebook “like.”
While it makes many things simpler, many are wondering if they want to spend a few more hundred dollars on something that could make their lives more complicated. Check them out soon at an Apple Store near you to give it a try.
Information can be extremely helpful but overexposure to too much information is perhaps the opposite. As access to information becomes easier and literally “at our fingertips” we wonder how much more intrusive versus how useful it will become in future generations of consumer and business oriented technology.
The Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY) produced a video in 2011 that went viral entitled “A Day Made of Glass.” This video was prophetic beyond it’s time in the sense that it portrayed a futuristic environment of responsive design at home and work as a common and useful experience. The countertop becomes a giant tablet, but accessible only as the user wants to use it etc., thus becoming the perfect blend of being able to access information and shut it off all without have to wear a wearable. As user experience drives revenue for these tech companies, they are forced to invent new gear that answers to that call. We look forward to things that work better for life rather than interrupting it.
Knowing where the nearest gas station is and which one is most cost efficient is excellent, as long as it does not conflict with our view of the road, and cause us to get in an accident.
A brave new world of useful tech is on it’s way let’s get excited!