How smart are your “smart” devices?
There’s been some interesting thinking coming out of Dan Hon’s thoroughly excellent daily email newsletter recently around what “smart” devices really are, and I’m inclined to agree with a lot of the thoughts in this particular post.
For me, “smartness” in devices is only really going to come about fully when they become frictionless and nigh-on ubiquitous - that is to say, when they do not require any specific dedication of conscious attention, time or management in order to do their thing. Their intelligence will be manifested by their lack of need for conscious human attention and shepherding rather than their possession of buttons and shiny screens for us to paw at.
As I noted in my recent link to Tom Coates’ recent #foocamp session writeup, there is currently a rush to develop “smart” or “connected” devices, but no really sense of any compelling or coherent ecosystem to bring it all together in a human-accessible way.
…some kind of concierge experience combined with a lot of physical interfaces roughly like we operate with today was what people wanted. But the general fear was that we’d end up with a bunch of dashboards and silo’d apps in perpetuity and ad infinitum…
Sure, there are smart devices for all manner of tasks or purposes, but there’s nothing yet that brings them together in a way that non-geek humans can understand, empathise or connect with.
This also ties in with Dan’s ongoing crusade for empathy in technology - smart devices not only need to do their smart “thing” (whatever that may be), but they need to either be so utterly self-contained and autonomic that they need no direct interaction or to provide the kind of affordances that allow humans to intrinsically understand and interact with them naturally.