Working on the Microsoft Home, we designed scenarios and prototypes with suppositions based on technology trajectories 3-15 years ahead. Our assumptions of what would be possible evolved as technology advanced and society adapted/changed. We told stories that either solved a problem or enhanced experiences through technology. Our job was to engage people emotionally and expand their perceptions of what was possible… to suspend disbelief.
When joining the team in 2000, our technology baseline for the envisioned future was: smart connected devices with software and services running between them. Because this was relatively uncharted territory in the consumer space the potential scenarios were endless. This made for a very easy entry into the field of theoretical futurism. Technology was king; and we knew being connected was an integral step to giving users the best experiences. We also knew that for us to tell a story about this possible future we had to be sure we knew how this could be accomplished technologically. One of the first scenarios I worked on centered around my music, anywhere, on any device. Of course this seems very basic now, but at the time we were still analog and unconnected for the most part.
As smart connected devices became a given, we moved on to devices working better together to provide richer experiences. Working with user centered design principles we had to think about the right combinations of devices and software to deliver enhancements people wanted. An early “watching TV scenario” had wall speakers play the audio as they were a higher quality than those in the TV; also the room lights dimmed for better viewing as well as providing ambience.
Then we brought together intelligent systems facilitating experiences* based on software discovering and making connections with all available resources (devices, sensors, services, or other technologies). We aimed to keep the user at the center, being conscious to address what was integral to being human. We designed interfaces that would surface suggestions to provide the best potential experience given the resources and preferences.
The above video shows multiple examples of facilitated experiences within the Microsoft Home.
That was then. As time went on, the future caught up with us. There became an app for everything and we were wowed daily by all the technological advancements. This continues to be true and while our connected world still isn’t seamless we are starting to see that almost anything is going to become possible.
So what’s next, what will enhance our lives further yet?
*An earlier post discusses a patent that centers on technology facilitating experiences.