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The Race for the Interface

As you begin to develop your platform, you automatically begin to organize teams around coding skills. One of the grouping decisions was focused around our Front End GUI team. We have put together a group of amazingly skilled engineers who work hard to create our interface for the ecosystem of users we aim to service. However, if we are building a platform for years to come, is the GUI (Graphical User Interface) really here to stay?


Here is where I would love some feedback in the form of a poll.


What do you think will be the predominant interface for humans in 2030?


  1. GUI - Graphical User Interface
  2. Mobile Phones
  3. HUI - Holographic User Interface
  4. PUI- Projected User Interface   :-)
  5. TVUI -Television as an interface
  6. HEUI - Humanoid Embedded User Interface
  7. NUI - Neurological User Interface


Let’s start with some descriptions of these interfaces. First is the good old friend of ours, the GUI. The GUI, in its multiple incarnations, has transformed greatly from a feature and detail capability. If any of you are old enough to remember the green text and black background interface, you will probably agree that it wasn’t the most exciting screen to look at. But when it was suped up in movies such as “War Games” in the early 1980s, we were enamoured with the ability to draw maps and missile launches on the screen. The GUI has come a long way and now incorporates new technologies, detailed features, the addition of picture graphics, and utilizes completely flexible UIs making it more focused on the UX (User Experience) rather than advancing its features. One interesting development was the HTML 5.0 advancement which will change the way we interact with web browsers and create ease of deployment using containers such as OpenFin.


The mobile phone is currently the most popular interface and, considering my children fixation with their devices, it's probably here to stay for a long time. The phone has so many advantages; it's easy to carry, it provides pretty fast web browsing, and it creates an ecosystem that allows data to be synchronized across multiple physical and cloud devices. Some places such as China and Africa completely skipped the desktop computer and use mobile phones exclusively. In these instances, even though a mobile phone is small enough, if you find the “right” size, it could be very effective at eliminating the need for anything larger. The phone is also semi-private making us feel secure and comfortable while using it, especially when in the company of others (albeit some folks are too comfortable as was evident on a recent bus ride when I overheard details about a family feud, courtesy of the woman sitting next to me). The problem with the phone, however, is that it’s can be bulky and a nuisance to carry, not to mention distracting. You have to stop what you are doing before shifting your attention to your phone. With this in mind, I propose that mobile phones are ultimately not the best interface as we move forward. 


The past five years have been great for the advancement of the Holographic User Interface. We dreamed of it when it was shown as a communication interface of the future in the movie “Star Wars”, but only recently became more convinced that the technology is possible. The biggest issue is privacy. Interacting with a hologram requires space and that is not a commodity we can spare much of. I do expect further advancements in this technology and the possibility of VR (Virtual Reality) moving from the mobile phone to the hologram as it becomes more advanced.


Another version of the the hologram is pinpointed projection. Some of you may have seen the new device that projects a keyboard onto your desk or a phone interface onto your wrist. These are not holograms, but rather very accurate laser projections. The lasers then measure how you interfere with them while interacting with the projection which leads to software commands. Cool and cheap technology that continues to advance, but it’s got some work to do to be useful for the mass market.


We continue to spend more and more time in front of the TV, period. Traditional TV might be slumping, but streaming services are growing fast. The bottomline is that as more homes are equipped with TVs, the ability of it to become the next major interface increases. Smart assistant equipped TVs are coming to market and they want to make sure that you order your next delivery of toilet paper using them and not your mobile phone, PC, Alexa or Siri to do so. These advancements are welcome and will unfortunately tie us to our couches even more, but I don’t believe they will be a long term candidate for taking over the top interface for humanity.


The next interface on my poll is the one I am betting on to become the most prominent interface by 2030- HEUI. In fact, I have seen some examples of this interface recently and  am very impressed by it. The version I saw was basically a replacement of the cornea in the eye that allows the user to augment their vision with extra pieces of data, analytics, or relevant relationships. It also allows the user to take pictures as well. This is basically the advanced version of Google Glass but embedded into our eyes, ears, or other parts of our bodies. The advancements of biological fusion technology will allow circuirts to be built using natural biological materials, just one of many exciting opportunities possible in this field.


Last but not least, is our brain. Advancements in neurological commands that could be interpreted as technical commands are growing fast. Although it might seem like science fiction, NUI is real and while I expect this interface to grow, I’m not predicting that it will be the most prevalent interface in 2030… maybe closer to 2050.


So, what are your thoughts on how we will interface with technology and each other in the future? To quote a line from a Peter Townsend song, “We got to face the face”.


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