Friday I was on a flight from Perth to Melbourne and was watching the movie IRONMAN on my iPhone (3hr flight – welcome respite from Qantas’ usual propaganda TV). I love this movie for a number of reasons mostly because every time i see the FUI (Fantasy User Interfaces) it just gets my creative mojo going again. I find these types of Hollywood movies inspirational and firmly believe they bleed out into real life and affect UX designs world-wide.
One scene did catch my eye, it was a scene where the guy from Mad Money tells everyone to sell stocks in Stark industries.
I chuckled at seeing this scene, as for me I can’t but help laugh at the fact here we have this fantasy based device that 3 years ago, made people drool at the very idea of its existence. Fast forward to today, Apple announces the iPad which is probably the closest looking device of this kind on the actual market and has received mixed reviews, mostly how it lacks innovation.
Innovation, what does that mean? Wikipedia says:
The term innovation means a new way of doing something. It may refer to incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products .
Incremental and revolutionary are often not allowed to be used in the same sentence as they kind of fight with one another in terms of adhering to people expectations.
For instance, I’ve often heard Microsoft Surface table being declared a “missed opportunity” and I can’t but help disagree with that remark. Today for instance I ordered a Dell Multi-Touch monitor and a new Dell Laptop with Windows 7. 1 year ago, it didn’t exist, today it does. Microsoft Surface did it’s job, it dared the mainstream hardware manufacturers to beat it in an open market place, it provided the necessary research and development skills to the Windows team to ensure multi-touch was baked into the next operating system (which has recently reported enormous growth potential). It’s expected by 2012, multi-touch devices are going to be as normal as a mouse/keyboard – yet, 5 years ago, it didn’t exist.
10 months ago, Silverlight was just a plug-in, today it’s a plug-in that sits within a browser but also has the option to pop out of the browser, sit on your desktop and then get this – have a browser within itself. It’s fast becoming a concept where you have browser meets desktop and the division between desktop client and browser start to blur.
Approx 2 years ago, Steve Ballmer wrote off the iPhone as just some luxury device that wouldn’t sell as well as folks believed it to. He was partially right, the iPhone hasn’t sold as much as people think, but what it did do was light a huge fire under the mobile device markets butts. Now, today, you’re being bombarded with “iPhone” envy based devices.
My overall point is this, somehow we are owed more yet we don’t seem to take time out to pause and reflect on what we have before us. User Experiences is a prominent fixture in our daily lives now, the “good enough” approach is fast becoming taboo, we are innovating and we are doing it via revolutionary increments. The software industry is probably at its most exciting point in time, its the time when operating systems and devices need to bring more to the table than they have that or find ways to expose what they have in a more UX favored light (innovation is often also hidden deep within the bowels of existing technology, waiting to be exposed).
Steve Jobs this week allegedly called Adobe lazy and in the same breathe cited HTML5 as the future. I agree Adobe have been lazy and immature for quite some time (its the core of my frustration with the brand) but I disagree with HTML5. The reason I disagree with HTML5 as i feel it goes backwards in innovation and not forward, its an incremental growth spurt that is taking forever to land. What happens with HTML5 thereafter? what’s next?
I’ll buy an iPad for the same reason it was shown in the movie IRONMAN as for me its going to be my interactive tv and newspaper in one. Fit for initial purpose to be exact. I bought a multi-touch capable computer now, because i want to implement some ideas I've had for quite some time, albeit implement my Fantasy UI.
I’ll continue to look at every device I can find that touches on User Experience and look at it from the lens of “What does it do? and what will it inspire its competitors to do?” and then judge it a success or failure. Incremental change needs to come from lessons learned.
Links you should click on:
- Bill Buxton on Multi-touch: http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html
- Mark Coleran Visual Designer and Hollywood FUI Guru - http://blog.coleran.com/
- My Interview with Mark Coleran - http://www.riagenic.com/archives/174
- Star Trek FUI Interview - http://theflashblog.com/?p=1023