Monday, 25 March 2013

"The future is (nearly) here and it's idiotic"

Sometime during the controversial launch of the Samsung S4 smartphone last week I picked up the following tweet, 'Eye scrolling. The future is (nearly) here and it’s idiotic' The tweet related to the innovation within the new Samsung smartphone that means that the interface will now track your eye movements and automatically scroll accordingly. The smartphone has been greeted with mixed reactions, from the tweet above, to some with a slightly warmer embrace LG certainly are taking issue with it, as they feel it may be infringing their patent.

A step too far?
The negative reaction does however engender some questions about the pace of innovation. In a recent discussion with an executive at Imagination Technology the computer chip technology manufacturers that help drive the graphics for mobile devices like the iPhone and tablet computers, he stated that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of technology roll out and that there was an innovation roadmap that went on for years. When we put it to him that this might simply not fit with what consumers actually want he replied 'What are we supposed to do? Stop innovating?' It’s a fair point, but something makes us feel we may be hitting a crossroads.

Unwanted innovation
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Google Glass and on-wrist technology being developed by Apple and indeed Samsung. While these products play well in geekier circles the noise from the average citizen seems to suggest that people just 'won't want it' and as these innovation announcements become more mainstream news there seems to be an increasing backlash. So how should we be approaching new innovation?

There is a tendency in industry to chase the 'new'. But with the new coming like a tsunami and from every angle, business' ability to use it to its advantage is gradually being eroded. Indeed, if we are to assume that consumers are actually getting tired of constant 'new' perhaps it’s time to consolidate our thinking and start looking at pragmatic implementation of technologies so that people can better use what they already have. Let's make apps with a fantastic user experience. Let's make video that works on all platforms.Let’s make websites work on a mobile. In short let’s give people what they want to make their life easier, not what the technologists think might be cool.

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