Forget moving towards a “paperless” world. Golden Krishna, senior designer at Samsung Innovation Labs, wants us to move towards a “screenless” one.
In his SXSW Interactive talk “The Best Interface Is No Interface,” Krishna said that with so many apps, smartphones and screens, “our love of the digital interface has gotten completely out of control.” He believes that it is his goal to solve people’s problems, but as an industry we are losing sight of that goal.
To illustrate this unwavering devotion to the screen, Krishna examined an automotive app used to unlock a car door. After fishing for a smartphone, entering the password, locating the app and finding the unlock feature, the user went through 12 steps to unlock the car. Of those steps, 10 involved fiddling around with the smartphone.
The designer gave three steps for people to evolve to a no interface style of thinking.
Krishna argues that it is this blind devotion to the screen that is obscuring what is helpful and what is not. Using the previous example, simply using a key would be a two step process (locate the key, unlock the car), or taking advantage of technology that was available at the end of the 90s could help your unlock the car in one step (key is in your pocket and as you pull the handle the car unlocks). “Somewhere along the way we got confused. We tried to make user experience equal user interface,” he says. “Good experience design isn’t good screens, it’s good experiences.”
Instead of serving computers, Krishna argues that we should reverse the relationship and have computers serve us. To illustrate this idea, he talked about caving headlamps for search and rescue. A doctor who would help people in caves had a problem: when he looked out on the terrain the lamp brightness was awesome, but when he needed to look at his map at a close range, it would wash it out. Petzl saw this problem and designed an interface that was aware, knowing the difference of looking “out” versus looking “down” and would adjust the intensity of the beam, helping save the doctor time in finding the people to rescue. Krishna pointed out “when computers serve us, they can help us save lives.”
“It takes a really smart team to solve most things for most people,” Krishna says. Big Data and data science help consider the individual. He talked about an experiment that IBM did with a rugby team. Rather than having this team log into a health portal and use a graphical representation of a person to point out what hurts, IBM placed sensors on the players during practice and the game. This uncovered new information about the players that enabled the team to predict injuries before they happened. “We can make systems that help you before you know you even need help,” Krishna says.
This is what gets me so excited about the next app revolution. If the last five years were about mobile apps, the next five are going to be about contextual apps. Rather than opening an app and inputting information, contextual computing can take this information automatically. This ability to easily gather data, the accessibility of that data and the availability of cloud computing power to interpret the data solves what is needed to get to Krishna’s “screenless” world. This could have dramatic impacts on our health, well-being and efficiency in the very near future.
What are your thoughts on the “no interface” future? Are we too dependent on screens?