Indistinguishable from Magic

NB Team

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Marc Weiser is a name that is synonymous with technology, so it makes perfect sense that a prediction he made in 1991 is now materialising and being realised. We love this Wired article on ‘nagging’ tech, which explains in-depth how Weiser’s thought that “the most profound technologies are those that disappear” is coming to life.

It’s an essential read for anyone who has noticed the recent bombardment of wearables, smart tech etc. Not just for its level of detail but also the idea that in the age of hyper-connectivity, the demands of consumers are transgressing back to technology that allows a quiet life.

The article points out that rather than disappearing, technology is actually becoming more visible, not for the reasons we’d usually assume, but because of the screens. Connectivity is largely determined by a device having a screen – screens make users look at them, digest the information and above all, pay attention.

The article suggests that the shift toward discreet, efficient products that operate in the background of a busy life poses an incredible opportunity for brands to rethink products. The idea is that brands should embed tech into “devices, vehicles, and environments [rather than] sticking another screen into our environment”.

While this is only the surface of the argument, it’s important, and it says a lot about the way technology is heading. There has been a flurry of connected devices released in the past few years, some of which have been met with relative success, some of which have quietly been discarded.

As consumers, our needs are changing – we want automation, personalisation and devices that can predict our next move and our needs, but aren’t as noticeable in our everyday lives. As Wired explains, this is a different approach to customer engagement, a more organic integration, as opposed to “tireless push notifications, alerts, or promotional emails”.

The idea that “the best way to predict the future is to create it” (Alan Kay) is more applicable to tech companies today than ever before.

Photo: Gary Waters/Getty Images