Future Interfaces

In their recent posting “Where’s my Jet Pack? Apple Tablet and Future Interfaces”, ReadWriteWeb has a good overview of some of 2009’s more creative examples of what interfaces might look like in the future. This provides more examples and some answers to my ongoing question “What if the impossible isn’t?”

Some of these examples have received a lot of press this year, and so you may already be familiar with them.  However I think it is well worth your time to read and watch some of these videos, not only to get a sense of what is and will be possible, but to increase our collective curiosity and ignite more imagination around how, where, and for what we will use such enabling technology. None of these developments will amount to much unless we are better prepared to take advantage of them as they arrive to help drive the research and development towards useful productive ends. We need to continue to dissolve the distance between ourselves, the technology, and the world within which we live—both virtual and physical.

I’d recommend you watch and ponder them all. Here’s one to get you started:

Pulp-Based Computing: While there’s little information on these projects just yet, one thing is clear. The folks in MIT’s Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group are exploring electrically active inks and fibers during the paper making process to create a new form of paper-based computing. Apparently the paper would react in the same way as regular paper; however, it would also carry digital information. While the project is only in its early stages and appears to be hooked up to a basic Arduino prototyping platform, theoretically this could be used to create a new type of Wacom tablet. Remember when Steven Levy wrote about losing his Macbook Air? A paper interface would take some serious getting used to.

I’ve been championing “true digital paper” for about 20 years now, where traditional pulp-based paper is mixed with “digital goo” that adds new properties for display, control, and other input/outputs, so this MIT development has been especially interesting to me.

See what you think. In a future post, I’ll talk about some of my thoughts on where this might lead.

— Wayne

Posted via web from Imported from http://waynehodgins.typepad.com

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