Six years ago I made a video predicting the way we would interact with technology in 2020. Truth be told, it was more of a commentary on Minority Report movie, and having strong belief in augment reality. This video still gets comments, most referring to the probability or improbability of such interface considering today’s technologies advances. My usual response is “hey, this prediction was done when touch technology was only surfacing!”. I think it was a relatively good prediction back then. But things have changes since then and I was asked now and again what is my prediction now.
I should give credit dues, just as the previous prediction wasn’t mine (although the vision was. Making that video wasn’t simple with zero budget!), this idea isn’t completely mine as well. I have two sources to rely on – one is this TED lecture by Tom Uglow and the second is Harry potter. I should also give some credit to my sister, whose been bugging me for year to invent a photo-album that can also store short videos.
Since 2009, I became an environmentalist, and I’m much more aware of the economic fragility that began at 2008 and I believe will never fully recover. That in mind, I can give 3 predictions. The first is that most things will stay as they are: after all, the difference between iPhone 1 and iPhone 6 are negligible. The second is that the economy will collapse before any major improvement will take place. Just like Cuba got stuck somewhere in the 50s, so we will get stuck with today’s technology for years to come, It’s actually a lot more horrid than you think, because things built in the 50s were built to last, while today, electronics simply die after 5-10 years (I’m still proud owner of an iPhone 4, that today for some strange reason would ignore my attempts to communicate with him for an hour so. Very frustrating.)
But let’s imagine humanity will able to pull it through. In my most optimistic vision, where do I hope technology would lead?
Imagine you have a book. an e-ink paper book, so every page is actual screen. Now comes the important question – why would you need a book filled with many e-ink screens? and there are two answers – one is to give the book a sense of essence – weight, and the second is that each page is actually a bookmark to a different page you’d like to keep. Of course you can have a virtual bookmark, but it’s much nice to browse through the pages to find what you’re looking for. the size of a book is a personal issues – kids would probably want a small simple book to begin with, while scholars would probably go with a big leather-cased book. They’ll be proud of their big book, just like people were once proud in their enormous library of book which they’ve never read in their life but they hoarded because it made them feel more intellectual.
Some spec – so every page is a double-sided e-ink screen, sensitive to a special pen that can be used to write on it. the cover contains the actual computer; It might also contain a small solar panel can use to charge the battery that helps to run your book for weeks on end. The cover also contains a WIFI adapter that connects to other books to form a network of books sharing an online connection to the internet.
Reading stuff from a book is somewhat intuitive – just open the book and read, when you reach the end of the page, simply flip the page and it will automatically show the next page (of course you can scroll down in the very same page, but why?). If you happen to reach the end of the book but the current content didn’t end, simply press the marked circle at the end of the of the page and flip back a few pages, When you let go of the circle, the new page will continue with the previous content. Writing is also very intuitive – just use the special pen and start jotting down on the paper as the e-ink will display your scribbles.if the first line of your text was underlined – that will be the title of your text (otherwise, the title will be the time and the first few words). Erasing text is also easy – simply use the the other side of your pen over written lines and it will be erased. When you’re ready to save your content, simply draw a save icon, a circle around it and press on it for two second, the circle will blink and your text is saved. Which brings us to actions in general. To issue an action, draw it’s icon; a circle around it and press on it for few seconds. If your don’t know which actions are available, draw the hamburger icon (three lines) and a menu of all available actions (and their icons) will pop. Some applications might have actions button already appearing on the page and then all you have to do is press them for two seconds. The text is saved in your hand-writing, but you can transform it to actual text at any time.
I don’t think there’ll be application in the book. At least not as we know them. Mainly because no one really cares, which application they’re using, as long as they get their work done. Why would I want to deal with incompatible versions or upgrades or anything like that. But this doesn’t mean you can only read and write. Obviously you can read and write mail messages, by a adding a “To: xxx” at the top of the message and drawing the “send” action. Your inbox will appear on one page and by marking a message and flipping to the next page, you’ll be able to read what your grandmother has send you. Flipping back will bring you to your inbox again. crossing over the messages will remove them from the inbox the next your flip a page. Searching the web is also easy, write your query or question and draw either the search or the question mark action icons to see the answer form in front of your eyes. The big difference between a general query and a question mark is that the question mark is curated – usually more focused but my be limited at times.
A great way to interact with book is the use of bookmarks. Whenever you have content that is important to you and want to have a quick reference to it in the future, just put a sticky bookmark on the side of the page. you’ll quickly see a black border forming at the edge of the page. Now, whenever you open the book on that page, the previous content will pop up. If, however, you’re reading content that extends over several pages and your flip through a bookmarked page, your bookmark will give its place to the current content your viewing, as if it wasn’t there. To quickly switch back to the bookmarked page, take the page up and down and quick motion, as if the knock the previous content from it. Note that when looking at another page’s content, removing the sticky-bookmark and re-applying it will cause the un-bookmarking the previous page and marking the new one instead.
As regards to Music and videos – personally I don’t think books should be used to play music. You will probably have a seashell-looking speaker whose interface is very likely to be like today’s iPod. and videos will be played using a crystal orb or projected. Not that music and videos are strangers to the book, but that’s not its purpose and I consider it a waste of battery-life. You’d probably disagree, but heck, if Steve Jobs allowed himself to limit the user capabilities, why can’t I.
And on a closing note-