Today’s Phones and Tablets Will Die Out Like the PC
Instead, the future of computing is at a very large scale. I am not referring to the room-size monstrosities from computing’s dawn in the 1960s. I’m talking about a diffuse and invisible network embedded in our surroundings. Chips and sensors are finding their way into clothing, personal accessories, and more. These devices are capturing information whose impact is not yet meaningful to most people. But it will be soon enough. The question we need to answer is: how will these intertwined systems of hardware and software be designed to meaningfully add to our lives and to society?
Today we are enjoying what computing has done to enhance our lives, but we do not like having to baby-sit all the devices that give us access. We have to tell them what to do. The next wave of computing devices will be different because they won’t wait for our instructions. They will feel more like natural extensions of what we do in our lives. The hardware and software technologies behind this ubiquitous-computing model will become the focus of a radically changed computing industry.
These technologies will also change the way we look at computers. For example, making payments through a smartphone requires that the user unlock the phone, swipe to find the application, launch the application, and then initiate the payment function. But a smart watch could be designed to initiate a payment when you tap it on a payment terminal. There are so many of these ordinary functions that can be enhanced by computers but should not involve the overhead of operating a computer.