The iPhone X has no buttons. But what if it were touchless?

The iPhone X has received a lot of attention and hype by being the first phone on the market to feature literally no buttons on its screen surface. It’s an obsidian black masterpiece of minimalism, in which every possible interaction you could hope to have with it can be achieved simply by swiping, tapping and pinching on its sleek (yet slightly fingerprinty) surface. It’s undoubtedly a thing of stark and utilitarian beauty.

But is that the only reason buttons are out and touch devices are in? Because, at the end of the day, it’s prettier? Have we really put a vast workforce of industrious button manufacturers out of business simply for the sake of fashion and style? And if it is just fashion guiding our innovation does that mean buttons will be back “in” in a few years time?

I highly doubt it. I think our fascination with all things buttonless has a bit more to it than pure aesthetics. I think what the iPhone X achieves is the removal of a barrier between its user and its content. In a world where there is an over abundance of stimulation, communication and complexity at every turn, having something that you can use without yet another layer of abstraction is … well … refreshing. It feels like a step in the right direction.

So if a touch interface is a step in the right direction…

Is the movement toward technology that requires no touch whatsoever even better?

I think the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’. Neurogress is an innovator in neurotechnology which plans to move devices to this next level. Neurogress’ design philosophy is that, through brain-controlled devices people can further shorten that gap between what they want to achieve and the device through which they wish to achieve it. As Neurogress puts it, “the ability to change the environment by the power of thought removes the additional barriers and pseudointerfaces that mankind has created over the years to control devices and objects.”

Through neurotechnology, we’re going to see a proliferation of devices controlled by thought, from hair curlers to game controllers. Ultimately, this will extend to highly complex systems such as the computers and precision electrical tools we use. In the process, our hands will become less crucial in manipulating data and utilizing technology. This won’t just impact on convenience but will cause a profound shift in how we design the tools which serve us. Artificial Intelligence will vastly increase the scope of what we can do.

And it’s not just phones

Neurotechnology innovator Neurogress plans to unleash its AI augmented brain-interface software upon the Internet Of Things within the next few years. This is projected to be a $1.4 trillion industry by 2020.

Neurogress’ vision is that the brain will become the controller of choice for a veritable ecosystem of devices. The same devices which today rely on clumsy, manually controlled interfaces. Imagine driving home from work and mentally power on your lights and climate control. When you walk through the door you decide to mentally switch on some relaxing music. Not one of these technological interactions will require any physical interaction with a device.

Touchless … gaming?

I think a huge draw for brain-controlled devices isn’t just that we’ll be able to do practical things more easily with fewer distractions. It also means that we will be able to do entirely frivolous things more awesomely with fewer distractions. I’m talking about brain-controlled gaming.

Think of your typical game controller and how it’s configured. It’s just one example of how we make our interfaces with ten fingers in mind. Once you eliminate the pinky your standard human can activate about eight things at once. With brain activated interfaces, these restrictions will no longer apply. The number of things you can do at once may be limited only by what your mind (augmented by a powerful AI mediating the connection between you and your gaming device) can handle.

If there was no limiting handheld device standing between our brains and the computer, what would gaming look like? Would it still even resemble a game as we currently think of it? I think it’s a no brainer that it’d be fast, furious, brutally competitive and utterly addictive. However, I think it’d also open up new ways for challenging and testing what our brains are capable of. How many separate things can you focus on at once? Can you shield your thoughts while attempting to probe those of your competitor? How resistant to distraction are you? How much control do you have over your instinctive response to external stimuli? The possibilities are … well … daunting.

Indeed, brain-controlled gaming in the future may be the equivalent of a gym in which we refine and hone the mental agility we use in our daily life. It’ll be fun to see where the rabbit hole goes!

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