It’s easy to find someone that will tell you the future is filled with screens and zombie-like humans staring at them. I’m a dreaded millennial after all- I’ve somewhat accepted this as my inevitable fate. However, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde offers an alternative ending. One that I quite like.
“I think in the end, technology will completely disappear. I don’t think we will be looking at screens so much in the coming ten, fifteen years. So, what happens when technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes a part of the things that we wear, the roads that we drive on?”
That last thought in particular was the focus of Roosegaarde’s interview with Dezeen Magazine during SXSW this year. The architecture and design magazine has partnered with MINI in a year-long collaboration called MINI Frontiers tasked with shedding light (the brilliance of this word play will become clear in a minute) on where design and technology meet to change or shape the future.
The focus of this particular technology was biomimicry, where designers take cues from nature when it comes to solving problems. The particular cue that had Roosegaarde excited was the self-sustaining luminescence of creatures like jellyfish. Without any outside help, jellyfish are able to create light. And Roosegaarde feels that bit of biological magic can be re-purposed as say, trees acting as street lamps.
This idea that technology is popping out of the screen and into the world reminded me of a project led by San Francisco design studioLUNAR. The company tasked two interns with creating wearable dating apps, arguing that the worst part of online dating is when you have to plot to meet in person. Instead, maybe there was a way to bring a digital “match” into reality. Basically, how can we use technology to enable a real life meet-cute?
The interns came up with two different takes on wearable technology: one, a pendant that lit up whenever a compatible person was nearby and the other, a charm bracelet that shows off your interests to those around you. Either idea showcases a desire for technology to migrate away from screens and into life.
I’m sure there are countless other examples of screen-shattering technology (I know- stop shouting Google Glass at your computer, I get it). Regardless of what’s out there, this millennial loves the idea that tech can become a seamless addition to human life, rather than a disparate distraction. After all, I value the things technology makes possible, but I don’t always appreciate how that technology can interrupt life and the world around me. Wouldn’t a necklace that subtly buzzed when someone you liked was nearby be better than staring at pictures on a phone? Wouldn’t trees lit up by their own luminescence fit the landscape better than bulky metal street lamps?