As much as we love to be influenced and governed by Apple as the today and tomorrow of interface design, it’s important to remember that there are other institutions with some spectacular visions of the future.
With the rapidly increasing popularity of OSX, we often forget that Microsoft have been responsible for some fantastic visions of the future. Even back in 2001, over a decade ago, Microsoft were having preliminary internal presentations demonstrating the use of gesture based navigation and interaction. Piquing the interest of Steven Spielberg, he went on to use this technology with the consultancy of Microsoft in his 2002 film, Minority Report, showcasing this contact-free method of interaction which became so synonymous with the film, having UI designers quoting ‘Minority Report’ style interaction.
This tool later went on to become the Microsoft Surface, being released roughly the same time as Apple’s iPhone. Because of its price and requirement for localised and specialised development, the unit became too costly for anything other than branded marketing efforts. Even so, it was a great technological showcase for Microsoft which has had people referring to it for both inspiration and guidance.
The Surface has recently been relaunched in v2.0 now, with price reductions and big changes to its practicality, further extending its possibilities in real world use. Would love one at home!
Moving the game even further, Microsoft presented the world with a romantic notion of the future, engaging people with an interface that promoted interaction. With some great visuals and imagination, they appear to really go to great lengths to demonstrate a very viable future.
Then, they go to town on a global vision with their fantastic ‘Product Future Vision (2011)’ video. It’s an all out showcase of technology illustrating how technology can reinforce relationships, focus more on doing rather than the organising and providing the world with a free form method of sharing that has no limitation in technology. How this all works in practicality remains to be seen, but having someone like Microsoft think about all these things today is a comforting thought.
As interface designers and service providers to digital communications, we all have a say in the future of the peripheral and its impact on all of us. It is truly an exciting time with an ever evolving landscape that does not seem to want to settle.