There are too many technologies in our life, we use it too often and it can be tiring. Moreover, the process of using it usually focuses all our attention, effectively cutting off from the environment for too long. Advancing global technological saturation produces in us, users, growing stronger desire to commune with a more subtle innovation. This means that technology designers are increasingly looking to create discreet and almost invisible solutions. They try to make technology more and more intuitive, focused on action in the background, as often as possible without the need for human intervention. This invisibility is the penetration of our closest environment and melting into it, while maintaining the function of usable technology, exactly the way that objects that we use in our homes for decades.
Being on the Dutch Design Week, I visited a small – also somewhat hidden – exposition, whose main partner was Google. It alluded to the design of discrete technologies, which I used to call soft tech – present in our lives and in our homes, but not in the foreground. Useful, but somehow non-intrusive and at first not noticeable. Thought-out because they respond to new consumer’s needs and combine technology with the lifestyle of which they are to become part of. The exhibition was called “Softwear 2.0” and, what is obvious, it used only Google devices. At the same time, it is one of the latest examples of soft tech, which I have observed recently.
Technology in the next stage of its development will not (and certainly should not) involve all of our attention, but only part of it and only if it is really necessary. The target direction of its development is the so-called Calm Tech – the state of advanced technology development, the aim of which is not to be intelligent itself, but in an unobtrusive, real time, extends the intelligence of people. The term Calm Tech was coined in 1995 by Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, two scientists from the PARC research institute, in response to the growing complexity of the rapid development of information technology. The idea behind the concept of Calm Technology is simple – make more and more intelligent people, not objects. The latter is enough that they will simply become more intuitive and proactive in relation to our needs.