Book of the Week: The End of Hardware

The End of Hardware

They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” and I think that in this case, it rang true. Aside from the Clip-Art graphics on the cover, The End of Hardware, by Rolf R. Hainich talks about what a few years from now was in the edge of product development or user interface and now, 3 years later (it was published in 2009), has become a reality: virtual objects and new approaches to augmented reality.

The End of Hardware states that exactly: no more big tablets or clunky laptops to experience an augmented or virtual space. Rather, that space is perceived through our eyes (and other senses) seamlessly. I finished reading this book just as I saw Google’s Project Glass video. The future is now, at least, as Hainich predicted! Google’s Project Glass video/demo, gives us a glimpse into the life of what Hainich would refer to as “four-eyed”: someone that has Augmented Reality glasses on, (he calls them vision simulators) and experiences life with different layers of data input (some virtual, some real), hands free.

The End of Hardware goes on to talk about the implications of this technology and usages. Here is where I got really engaged: how we have to approach design and interaction in a different way, and if this is really purposeful or not:

“We will have to envision entirely new applications and usage habits. It’s a new world to explore.”

I consider these to be important points to reflect on when coming to having this “future” now in the realm of interaction design:

  • showing as many applications as possible
  • demonstrating the feasibility of these projects
  • micro and nano technologies will be very important here
  • customized user interface (as the display is virtual, and the icons, etc. can be customized and used on any surface -the real world-)
  • eye-pointing, hands free
  • less clutter, less stuff on landfills as it is all virtual (very small hardware) and the updatable thing would be the UI or the AR displayed.
  • legal system to face entirely new facts and circumstances (openness, copyright, etc.)
It is all very exciting to see this (about) to happening! The book went in-depth in analyzing how these vision simulator would work (lots of tech specs and optics, input-output etc.) and the author even wrote a part of fiction in the book.
The gap between inventing discovery and realization is shortening exponentially. And this is why I am reaffirmed in the belief that there must be a purpose (call it value, conceptual framework, approach, or creativity) that drives the use of these technology, gadgets and the interaction with them: it comes too fast and we move on to the next thing, faster than ever imagined. But the core concept and purpose remains.

“The important issue was not how to do it, but first to know what it should do. Just as with all innovations: the most difficult and important step is not to find the answers, but to ask the right questions. “

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The vision simulator. Early prototype for Project Glass?
Enter fiction part now…
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