Bill ‘Frickin’ Buxton (as coined by Josh Clark) spoke at Future of Web Design this year on the social network of devices. In essence his talk focussed on the state of play when it comes to device interaction, and some thoughts, problems and procedures associated with interaction design in the future. In Bill’s eyes, it’s all about making technology transparent and interaction seamless in everyday life. That is, you shouldn’t have to worry about technology in different concepts, and if you can see the machine/computer/motors in what you’re doing, then the design is broken.
However, it wasn’t the talk that inspired this post, but something that Bill said in response to a question after the talk. An audience member asked about the problems that we face with technological hurdles (like processing power, memory and battery) when it comes to creating experiences across devices and contexts.
In response, Bill told a story about a watch he owns. It’s a small Casio watch with a capacitive touch screen that allows direct input onto the face of the watch to access information. For example, if he wanted to know what 1+2 was, he would draw ‘1’, ‘+’, ‘2’, ‘= and the watch would show ’3’. If he wanted to look up a phone number, he’d start to draw the name of the person he was searching for. This is an intuitive and well designed piece of technology that Bill bought in 1984. Earlier in his talk, Bill made the comment that technology takes 20 years to go from invention to commercial visibility. That is, the technology that is heralded as new and cool now is actually 20 years old, and the things that are built today won’t be seen in the mainstream till 2032. In Bill’s words, “the only processing problem we face today is up here in our brain, with our creative process.”
It’s an interesting concept that I’ve been thinking about a lot. We’re currently in an age where almost anything is possible with technology. However, the real challenge is in the ideas and the creativity attached to coming up to what can be done with the technology.
It’s an incredibly inspiring thing to think on, and is something that makes me incredibly excited, especially with all the crazy, cool, wonderful things that come out of hacks and hack days. However, I believe that as developers and designers, we need to start looking outside our own fields. This is where I see hack days focussed around non-tech areas (like Music Hack Day, Culture Hack and Culture Code) as incredibly exciting opportunities where non-tech people and tech people come together, come up with ideas together, and build things together…
Now that technology isn’t standing in the way of the possibilities, it’s time to make something awesome. Get out there and do it.