Last year Microsoft’s Office Labs released two videos that gave a glimpse into the future of technology. Chances are you have probably seen these, but whether you have or have not, give them a watch. I can’t help but recognize a few similarities to Microsoft’s metro and Windows 8.
I want this to be the future of technology. I love the way it looks and how it interacts with the user. In my opinion, Windows 8 and Microsoft’s other innovations (ie. Windows Phone, Xbox, etc.) are the first real step of actually making this video a reality; the first real step into the “PC+ Era.”
So what exactly is the PC+ Era? It is the age in which technology and people interact seamlessly to “make the complex stuff simple, and the time-consuming stuff fast” to reach the overall goal of enhancing our lives. It is the age in which technology plays an even more dominate role in our lives than what it currently plays, is more than just a computer on your desk (or lap), and encompasses the following five characteristics:
- It’s fast.
- It’s easy.
- It’s smart.
- It’s everywhere.
- It’s built on apps.
It’s fast. In the PC+ Era, technology is extremely fast. Users do not have to wait for devices and applications to load up, and the user’s input is quick while the devices results are instant. The way the technology is designed, whether it is the software or the hardware, allows the user to interact with it like its second nature.
It’s easy. While the high speed of the technological device gives the user instant results, its ease of use is equally important. The device has a simplified user-interface that puts content first in an easy to read format that only provides the user with exactly what he or she needs at a given moment. It eliminates the unused or rarely used options that take up valuable space and simply tucks them away, to be easily accessed with a simple click. Gestures take on a dominate role for the user to interact with the device; there are several different gestures which provide the same results over any situation. Because of this, the user knows precisely what to do and how to do it even if they have never encountered the specific situation which they are in. Therefore, if the user needs something, they know where to go for it and no longer need to hunt for it, and if it is not there then there is only one other place it can be and they know exactly where that other place is. This ease of use, just like its fast speed, is like second nature to the user.
It’s smart. While you may not be able to engage in an intellectual debate with your technology, your technology does provide you with everything you need to have a debate with somebody else. This is because the technology of the PC+ Era has the ability to access large amounts of information, both quickly and easily, no matter if it is through the internet or an application. More importantly, the technology has the capability to recognize what the user is doing and assist the user. It can recognize where you are, what devices you have with you, and what devices are around you. It knows what applications to startup, and gives you options depending on the task you are involved in.
It’s everywhere. The technology of the PC+ Era is made up of multiple devices across multiple locations. The devices include familiar ones such as your computer, smartphone, and television, but also extend to your car and appliances within your home like bathroom mirror, kitchen countertop, refrigerator, as well as home security system and air conditioning, water, and electric. The use of the cloud and wireless technology connects all these devices with one another quickly, easily, and automatically to allow the user to control them through devices. The cloud and wireless technology, in addition to other features such as NFC, GPS, camera, microphone, and Bluetooth, all enable your devices to interact with other devices in multiple locations. These not only include your home and work, but also stores, supermarkets, restaurants and cafes, banks, movie theaters, public transportation systems, museums, schools, etc. Being easy, fast, and smart, your devices recognize who you are, where you are, what you are doing, and simplifies your tasks.
It’s built on apps. Software is to a computer as the soul is to a human body; it completes it. Remove the software and all you would have is an expensive paperweight or doorstopper. Although software has been around for as long as the personal computer and offers users with a huge selection of options and features, applications take it a step further. The PC+ Era is built on applications, which are specialized mini-programs that provide the user with some important feature, whether it be keeping track of meals, shopping, playing games, searching for something, or whatever – the possibilities are endless. The new era is built on apps because there can be countless available and they can do two things well: easily adapt and work together. Once you download an app, it is easy to update it so if a developer needs to or wants to change something, they can. Since the entire platform is based on apps, it makes changing the important apps (i.e. mail, calendar, photos, etc.) easy as well that might have been more difficult had it been a large program integrated into the operating system. These apps, being smart, can easily and quickly adapt to the situation at hand and help the user in a particular task. This is also made possible with the fact that apps can easily work together. They know what other apps you have and what those apps do, and seamlessly unite to get a job done. For example, now you not only can search for a restaurant, but book a table, order from their menu, and share it with friends without having to physically find the apps – the apps have done it for you.
I understand that both Apple and Google have taken similar steps and have made amazing products, but I personally envision the future of technology to look like the above videos and see Microsoft’s products looking and acting the most similar. This is especially because of the unified user-interface, metro, that Microsoft is adopting across its platform and the features and flexibility Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox have.
What are your thoughts about the future of technology? Unification of Microsoft’s products? PC+ Era?