MacBrains‘ David Borel spotted a very interesting patent from Apple a few days ago: using kitchen surfaces (and Surface is the word;o) for displaying contextual information to the kitchen user. In fact, this is exactly the example I use for explaining DiCoDE – future: the connected fridge. Just like many futuristic visions for the last decades (and I meet David Borel here too: look at the bottom of the article) that joined popular culture, I use the example of The Connected Fridge to explain my vision of the New Media future. It gathers the 5 main concepts of DiCoDE – the future: hyperconnectivity, Natural User Interface, User’s Context, Service and Experience. Let me explain!
My vision (also shared, and inspired by Microsoft’s a glimpse ahead video) is the following, taking this connected fridge example: all objects, thanks to The Internet of Things model, will be constantly connected (that’s what I call hyperconnectivity) and interface with human being via advanced NUI commands such as speech and touch (that’s the move from Graphical User Interface to Natural User Interface I highlight).
They will be able processing contextual data about the user. Not only his/her location, profile, preferences, network… but also anything relevant and captured by the system, like what’s left in the fridge, favorite dishes, maximum calories for this meal… I call this User’s Context. All this will allow the fridge (or the kitchen in Apple’s example) to provide a service to the user, through a filtered (via context data) push method. User has no longer to get content (and first find the associated device – where the hell is the remote;o) to help him cooking.
By knowing what the user wants/needs (Help me cooking a pot-au-feu!), the fridge/kitchen will serve the user, guiding him through the steps and serving as a personal assistant. Which is, by the way, one of the key trends on mobile asian markets! And last but not least, being freed from GUI-based device, this service will be provided to the user as a real part of his/her life, as a true experience. We can use without mistake the term Augmented Reality here!
Unlike today, difference might not be done on the hardware (if we assume all fridge manufacturers will enable these functionalities) nor on the software anymore. That’s why I agreed, answering a tweet of Forrester’s Thomas Husson today, on the current move of mayorship (think leadership or ownership) in New Media ecosystems from Telecom to User Interface (device) universe should be followed by a rise of Media universe, focussing on service content rather than on disappeared device (I called this phase Kill the Device in an early sketch). And I always wondered what Apple would do in such a scenario. It seems they want to design kitchens and fridges…
[Update March 24th 2011]: There’s a buzz on the web lately using Apple’s Smart Cover to hold iPad to a fridge. Some people already thought about it before, but this standard case Apple is selling will probably facilitate the process. It’s a middle step (a podcast step, as i say) towards a connected fridge and a nice illustration of Design Thinking in action. No market research would have highlighted this trend but having people playing around with it (and maybe Apple let some of their employees play around, perhaps even finding this unusual use and optimizing the magnets to make it stick) shows how people expect to use the tool. It’s close to the concept of boundary object i already highlighted on this blog.