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E-commerce Link : Tech-evolution

What the emerging tech scene means for marketers and their brands

June 2014 By Cristin Siegel
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Working in digital, I often come across "the gadget guy." These are the people who always have the latest and greatest in tech: wearables, connected appliances, automated cars and curved TVs, oh my. I want to preface this column by saying I am NOT that guy. I am by no means an early adopter. I like my technology well-tested and I sit squarely in the middle of the consumer bell curve.

That said, as a user experience specialist, it is part of my job description to think about what kinds of interactions we'll be designing for next year, in five years and a decade down the road. It's an interesting question, and even my resident gadget guy's Google Glass can't help me predict the future of consumer technology. Or can it?

My colleagues and I have looked to the timeline of consumer tech, from the Commodore 64 through to Google Glass itself, to see if our history could be a useful predictor of what will be trending in the future. It turns out that there is a clear pattern in the shifts we've made during the last 20 years, and it appears as though this pattern will continue to drive innovation.

Tech Evolves; Designers Rejoice
Technology is becoming more human, which is music to the ears of human-centered designers around the globe. As our consumer technology evolves, we are able to behave increasingly more naturally. The technology itself is becoming more transparent. It is enabling richer experiences while simultaneously getting out of the way. This is an oversimplification, but the core idea is sound.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when all our digital work was completed while parked in front of a computer screen with a keyboard and mouse in hand. It was, of course, a huge step forward for productivity. But spending our days mostly alone—sitting in front of a box—was far from natural. It was a window to the world, but effectively removed us from interacting, working and socializing as we'd done previously. Even the act of typing, communicating so heavily through written text with our fingers on keys, is a learned human behavior necessary to accommodate the technology at hand.

During the years, computers have obviously continued to get lighter, slimmer and more portable—all baby steps to allowing users to work more comfortably and naturally. This trend toward portability continues as we fast forward along the consumer technology timeline and come to smartphones and tablets. Responsive websites are designed to display well across devices. Apps are created specifically for tasks that need to be completed on the go. Phones in hand, we may be out of our chairs, but we're still staring at screens.

 

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