What Will Trigger the Next Paradigm Shift in Computer Design?



According to several designers, it’s going to be cloud computing: Specifically, the rumored introduction of Google’s G-Drive, sometime this year. The G-Drive promises to make your hard drive obsolete, providing web storage for all your documents, pictures, applications, and media files. Design Week surveyed several design thinkers. The general concensus is that the computer might dissolve into “the merest slip of physical substance,” and that interaction design will have to be re-thought. Here are their specific thoughts:

Patrick Hunt, of product-design group Therefore:

“What is and what is not a computer will become blurred. Once you have all your data stored remotely, it will make it easier to use anything—your TV, kitchen appliances, pretty much anything—as a window on to your personal data. The freeing of computers from the constraints of a PC will throw up amazing opportunities to design rich and intuitive interfaces.”

Bill Moggridge, creator of the first laptop and a co-founder of IDEO:

“Goodbye keyboard, goodbye mouse? Will LCD and plasma displays go the way of cathode ray tubes?…After 20 years, people have just about given up on voice and handwriting inputs, but that often seems to be the time when new technology takes off…At the moment, we are living through a rush to touch-screen inputs, triggered by recent successes, but our fingers are big, and tend to get in the way, however diligently we are flicking and sliding”

But Ray Hammond, author of The World in 2030, demurred, arguing that things won’t change that much:


“People are naturally conservative about issues such as money and their daily itineraries. As a result, there will be private storage, even if it is just a memory stick. Twenty years ago, people said that money would no longer exist and everyone would be using plastic, but people still don’t trust plastic as much as they trust coins and notes.”

What do you think?

[Image: Concept design by Jeffrey Engelhardt, via Yanko]


About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.