New interface technology pushes the computational layer of the Stack more and more out of sight. This creates a new generation of more intimate and ubiquitous computers, while embedded computers need to be able to follow the mental flow of the user, and to adapt to it, so that the computer can show and obfuscate itself when necessary. In this era of ubiquitous and pervasive computing, we are always enclosed in digital spaces and interact with fluid and intuitive interfaces that will adapt to us and steer us in our daily endeavors. The completion of digitization is the disappearance of digital technology. Using next-gen interfaces such as AR, the computer will then become a transparent window augmenting the physical world.
Interfaces are not only used to collect data about users but could also be used to steer their behavior. With reward and reputation systems and persuasive technologies, users can be nudged towards desirable behavior, consciously or subliminally. In the corona society, the persuasive interface is an important means to enforce distance, guide individuals in public life and isolate high-risk cases.
Beyond the Graphical User Interface of the smartphone (GUI), we now experience the landscape of interfaces is unbundling. New devices address each of the senses differently (e.g., smartwatch, hearables, glasses, etc.) and are more intimately attached to the body, which also opens the door for more practices of pervasive computing.
The improvement of underlying hardware technologies helps drive the development of new forms of interaction and interfaces. Faster connections and faster computation could help realize interfaces that rely on low latency (e.g. eye-tracking, gaze-interaction, tactile feedback). The improvement of sensor technology allows for the inclusion of new modalities (e.g. ECG). Miniaturization of semiconductors and sensors could help create interfaces that can easily be embedded in our everyday context or even inside our bodies.
With the wide dissemination of data-extracting user interfaces, we’re currently living in the age of “surveillance capitalism”, in which users are continuously monitored and analyzed by corporations and governments on a mass-scale for the purpose of developing personalized services or surveillance respectively. From a political-economic and strategic perspective, it will be of great importance who owns the interface, platform and underlying infrastructure.
The disappearing computer points to a future where computers are embedded in everyday objects and dissolved into the environment. In this era of ubiquitous and pervasive computing, we are always enclosed in digital spaces and interact with fluid and intuitive interfaces that will adapt to us and steer us in our daily endeavors. The completion of digitization is the disappearance of digital technology. Using next-gen interfaces such as AR, the computer will then become a transparent window augmenting the physical world. When we look at the evolution of user interfaces we can see the gradual progression of the incorporation of every meaningful touchpoint of the human body (e.g. eyes, skin, ears, wrists, hands), with the aim to develop more intuitive ways to interact with computers and/or to extract data to gain insight into the human body. This provides new ways to create immersive entertainment, but in the paradigm of participatory societies, in which citizens take on the responsibility of managing their lives, self-tracking practices and interfaces become increasingly important – and sometimes mandatory. With empowerment and autonomy as leading values, people are increasingly willing to monitor and analyze their day-to-day activities and adapt behavior to personal goals and societal norms.