The era of transcendent technology
// 9 March 2012
Science fiction becomes science fact. That’s the future laid out by Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany earlier this week. Schmidt believes that much of what was imagined by Gene Roddenberry and Douglas Adams in their science fiction creations, Star Trek and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, has already arrived. Whether it’s voice recognition, electronic books, self-driving cars or intelligent robots, much of this visionary technology is already around us or in the works. Colour me excited!
And, with yesterday’s announcement (or worst kept secret) that the new Apple iPad will soon be available, it seems that these two competing tech behemoths are now in sync with their predictions. Why is this? Simply, the iPad and its most recent incarnation actually embody much of this vision that Schmidt articulated this week.
A couple of years ago this alignment between Google and Apple would have seemed weird and unrealistic. Certainly, they haven’t done this on purpose, but this is very telling about the development of technology nowadays. The fact that many of these innovations are now essentially pointing in the same direction tells us so much about what makes good technology into great technology. It’s like a shared epiphany between Google and Apple. Google excels at the ‘how’ of technology and Apple then takes the baton and brings the human experience to all those zeros and ones.
The video introducing the new iPad on Apple’s front page states that technology “is at its very best when it’s invisible”. This is at the heart of great technology; when it transcends its parts and features and gets out of the way of itself to enable or enrich a genuinely human experience. That is when we reap the most benefits from all those little chips and pixels.
And that’s where Apple nails it; interpreting this technology and these exciting developments in the ‘how’ of technology to come up with probably the most elegant answer to the ‘why’ question. What they’ve done with a device such as the iPad is take all the parts and create something that is greater than the sum of those. An experience that is transcendent and completes Roddenberry and Adams’ collective vision by rubbing that human flavour on it.
This transcendent technology is more than just new ways of looking at old devices. This is actually about a new way of thinking about technology. If those that develop these kinds of widgets and gadgets look at technology as an enabler of human experiences and something that is more of a window to the world, rather than the world itself, well, then everything changes. Those of us that take these products in our hands and make them part of our day-to-day will become more and more comfortable with what they do and we’ll be more inspired to make them a permanent fixture in our lives.
Andrés López-Varela, Account Supervisor, Technology