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I remember my first computer: the Acorn Electron. I was hooked, spending hours playing text based adventure games and Elite, a space trading simulator. I even learned to code a video game where you would fly a > through a valley of /\/\/\s. It wasn’t much, but as a kid got me into computers, which was an excellent move by my parents.

 

I remember my first computer: the Acorn Electron. I was hooked, spending hours playing text based adventure games and Elite, a space trading simulator. I even learned to code a video game where you would fly a > through a valley of /\/\/\s. It wasn’t much, but as a kid got me into computers, which was an excellent move by my parents.

 

The Acorn Electron. In all its beige glory.

I also remember my first laptop. It was a Toshiba something. I think it was the first generation of consumer laptops that were color. I used it to do some basic CAD while at college, and to play Syndicate City. I remember it weighed a freakin’ ton and it would get so hot it would burn my legs. Oh, and the battery died after an hour.

The Toshiba something. A brick of a machine.

And I remember my first smartphone: The iPhone 1. I used it for almost everything — from apps, to phone calls and texting. I haven’t owned another brand’s phone since. No one needs any more explanation of the iPhone, I don’t think.

 

The iPhone 1.

Recently I got an Apple Watch. I use it for normal watch things like telling the time, as well as receiving notifications — which primarily involves Apple tracking my heart rate and telling me I don’t exercise enough. I bought it to see if it would reduce my dependance on my iPhone. It didn’t. Unfortunately it lacks any real usefulness and I usually forget to charge it. Try again, Apple.

The Apple Watch.

 

Over the years, I have almost literally seen screens disappearing as they sink into our bodies. Once-upon-a-time, the screen was a big clunky thing attached to a computer — the desktop. It then became part of the computer — the laptop. Then it became the computer — the smartphone. And now it’s almost part of our body — the watch. Instead of being on the outside of the information looking in through a window — a screen — we are becoming the information. It’s part of us, enmeshed with our physical being. Not-so-slowly, we’re evolving to become the cyborg race that is our destiny (insert evil robotic laugh here.)

And, with Leap Motion, or Microsoft’s Hololens, it’s becoming freakishly more apparent…

Microsoft’s Hololens.

Screens are going away.

One day, they will be replaced by even more futuristic receiving mechanisms. Maybe it will be contact lenses. Maybe it will be brain implants. Maybe it will be some sort of machine-telepathy. Who knows?

But, enough of the science fiction. Let’s talk about science fact.

As screens are shrinking — and in many cases, disappearing — we’re getting more inputs from other signals. We’re being tapped by haptic motors. Buzzed by vibrating mechanisms. And pinged by tiny speakers. Our thermostat knows when we’re home. Our cars read text messages when they arrive. Artificial intelligence ‘bots’— like Siri, Cortana and Google Now — are springing up, offering voice controlled personal assistants. And Amazon’s Dash button and Echo are exploring a futuristic and screenless world too.

Amazon’s Dash button and voice controlled ordering system, Echo.

The weak signals have become a deafening roar.

I’ve heard some designers lamenting the shrinking screens phenomenon, wishing they only had high-res, large format screens to design for. This is, of course, completely missing the point. The infinite possibility of UI and design potential that ‘no screens’ affords is exciting and transformational. As a designer, I am already growing weary of mobile design, like I was with desktop before that. The problems are ubiquitous, and pretty much solved by the millions of designers working on apps and mobile websites. VR and AR are opening new and exciting avenues for design, but it’s the future’s interfaces built for touch, or sound, or smell, or taste that I want to embrace. I spend more than enough time in front of a computer, or glued to my phone. It can’t be good for my eyes.

Here’s to a future without screens.

 

This post originally appeared on Medium.