Frog Design imagines the wearable, post-smartphone world

Just as we’re getting used to the reality of the post-PC era predicted by Steve Jobs back in 2010, a tech design consultancy whose clients included Apple is predicting that it also won’t be long before we move into a post-smartphone age.

Frog Design’s chief creative officer Mark Rolston says that wearable and ubiquitous computing – the idea that computing interfaces will be embedded everywhere around us, rather than something we carry in our pocket – means that we’ll move beyond the point where we have to do anything as old hat as stop what we’re doing and pull out a smartphone. Writing in Technology Review (via BGR), he argues:

Because these new forms of personal computing radically minimize the user interface and integrate it into more of our natural behaviors, they can be activated by more subtle means such as tapping on objects or speaking. Or a device could recognize objects on its own and react accordingly.

For designers, the challenge is finding ways to carry out basic tasks such as reading messages, making payments, delivering alerts, and finding places without keyboards, high-res screens, and other features of the user interface as we’ve known it. To do this, they are simplifying tasks to their essence and creating new styles of interaction. For example, a function might be executed by tapping and speaking at the same time, or through natural gestures such as near-field “waving.”

The result should be a world where we have more pervasive access to computers yet fewer moments in our lives where we have to stop what we’re doing and operate a computer terminal. Essentially, we hope to take the computers out of computing.

It’s not a new idea, of course, and also something that’s unlikely to happen overnight, but with wearable computing flavor of the month, it’s a vision that may be a little closer than we might have thought just a few years ago.