As I near completion of my book on the Real Internet of Things, I wanted to call out a specific point about visions of future technology.
I think one of the best ways to envision what technology we should build is to imagine three things:
- Technology of the very distant future.
- Technology that is basically invisible.
- Technology that is so integrated into the society that it’s no longer even branded.
In the movie Her, for example, they obviously had made some pretty substantial advancements technologically, but if you look at how people lived their lives, it almost appeared to lack technology.
This is the sweet spot: extreme capabilities, but blended into human life instead of supplanting or obscuring it.
If you’re imagining a great technology of the future and you’re thinking of how someone would use it, if you can see the technology itself—or if using it takes the person out of a natural life-flow—then you’re probably not there yet.
There are some exceptions, of course. Getting into a capsule that takes you from one place to another is fundamentally not natural. But within those unavoidable constraints, the presence usage of technology should be invisible as possible.
So if someone comes home in 100 years, and says quietly:
News and sport.
…and the wall of their home turns into a giant display with 3D images of the top stories from both.
That’s just part of the future. It’s how things will work for every human. And the goal of visionary technology companies should be to figure out what that looks like and then build it.
It’ll be branded when it starts, because it’ll be first. And it may even be branded afterwards, but it’ll be in a very subtle way because it’ll just be what people have.
Looking from the outside is the best way to see that. Did a company come up with the tech to open Star Trek doors automatically? Sure. But nobody cares. It’s just what doors do now.
That’s what visionary tech looks like. Imagine the amazing stuff that exists 200 years in the future that’s so integrated it’s not even branded anymore.
That is what we should be building.
- Image from the movie Her.