There’s no way of 100% future proofing every design you make but there are strategies, design guidelines & standards, mobile-first techniques, and many other approaches that will allow your work to look awesome on devices that haven’t even been invented yet.
Look beyond the scope of your current project (believe me, it will be interacted with on devices that don’t exist yet) and be ready to embrace new solutions so that the experiences you create can tap into their future potential.
I’ll actually be talking about this galaxy, our earth to be exact, but the opening sequence to Star Wars always brings up a kind of romanticized nostalgia for new tech introduced via sci-fi (you’ll see why this bears relevance soon).
To see into the future, first we must take a look at the past. Here’s an abridged history of some more recent innovative human-computer technologies:
A history of interfaces
1961: The Rand Corporation invented the first computer interface
1984: The Apple Macintosh computer debuted for a mass audience
2007: The iPhone — though not the first touchscreen — was the most significant.
2009: The Kinect showed a new way to connect technology with the body.
2011: We met Siri, the “no-interface interface”.
2011: We welcomed Nest into our homes.
2015: The Apple Watch shows that wearables can allow you to be less distracted by physical devices by not being tied into an interface.
2015: Amazon Echo launched out of beta and is currently the most powerful voice-powered device on the market.
2015: Lexus Hoverboard, temporarily suspends our disbelief; creating the fantasy that we’re in Back To The Future II where Marty McFlyMarty fulfills our childhood fantasies.
A glimpse into the future
In a world where household appliances are becoming smarter, cars are autonomous, drones are doing fly by deliveries; where there’s an app for that; where any question you have can be answered by that device siting in your lap or in your pocket — certainly, digital intelligence is innovating and disrupting at a fast and furious pace.
2015: The designer behind one of the starships from the Star Wars video game franchise predicts the future of aviation travel — and it looks incredible.
2016: Sony Morpheus, a virtual reality headset, aptly named after my favorite fictional depiction of virtual reality — The Matrix.
2016: Microsoft will release Hololens to the public which has the potential to re-define the future of computing by interacting with three-dimensional holograms in your real world
Beyond 2016: As our lives become more interconnected, more of our social interaction might take place with the virtual walls of social media. Facebook is betting big on virtual realities.
They want to suck the real world inside Facebook’s virtual walls. They want you to live in the Facebook Matrix.
Magic Leap, a stealth startup is building some type of wearable to allow gamers and non-gamers alike, to get interactive virtual content in their real-world environment, known as Cinematic Reality. It claims to be beyond just a blend of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, but a truly integrated experience combining both 3D digital objects and real physical objects.
We’re going to see more products that our surfacing and reacting to our expressions and needs. This is a great opportunity for product designers to rethink and redesign human computer interaction.
Technology should be more adaptive to people.
We’re moving from a world of interfacing mainly devices and screens towards wearables and more recently, towards the cyborg end of the spectrum; where it’s embedded inside of you. Tech is being integrated into your body in the form of a digital pill, retina implants, ear implants, brain implants, internal headphones, and electronic tattoos.
Tech is not only becoming more intelligent but more connected to itself and ultimately ourselves.
The Internet of the future will be everywhere, connecting everything and everyone. Technology is moving from us having to ask for answers to surfacing and giving us answers before we even have to ask them. But it’s not just technological change that we have to keep mind while designing the next breakthrough experience. It’s when offline experiences evolve and are taken online; when the digital domain enables completely new experiences — that’s when we’ll see the lines blur between tech and reality.
Ultimately the friction between these two will fade away, paving the path for new mediums and humanizing experiences.
Asher G. Blumberg is a UX/XD Designer standing at the intersection of technology and human empathy, bringing the two together via brand and interaction. He dedicates his spare time to making memes. Currently Asher is designing mobile first experiences for StumbleUpon.