In 1991, the visionary computer scientist Marc Weiser declared that “the most profound technologies are those that disappear.”
Weiser is considered by many to be the father of ubiquitous computing, what we now call (for better or worse) the Internet of Things. What Weiser imagined in the early ’90s has mostly come to pass: connected devices that can wirelessly speak to one other, transferring data between themselves to provide new services and experiences.
But the technology didn’t disappear; in fact, it became more visible.
And screens are the main reason: they now surround us on our phones, on our refrigerators, in our cars, on our thermostats, everywhere. The easiest way to design a connected object currently is to stick a screen on it. And screens, by their nature, demand attention; you have to look at them. They create what cognitive psychologists call cognitive load: overtasking our mental processes to the point of being burdensome. I don’t want my toaster to be a burden.
Well, the backlash has begun.
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