On one hand, we live in a terrific fantasyland where technology makes our lives more convenient, more fun, and more secure. We have tech that completes tasks without prompting, that can hold conversations nearly as well as another person, that can literally take us to new places. Yet, on the other hand, our tech could be better.
Science fiction shows us pictures of jetpacks and moon colonies, but the truth is technology has a great impact on our lives ― and it could be greater. Through technology, we can craft the world into a better place, but first we need to develop better tech. Here are a number of ways we can modify and create tech that is bigger, badder, and better than ever.
The most recent industrial revolution brought the Western world the factory line and interchangeable parts, which dramatically increased productivity, decreased prices, and improved quality of life. Because we can create hundreds of identical items in just a few hours, nearly everyone can own the same things and reap the benefits of an elevated lifestyle.
However, in just a century, the boons granted by these industrial revelations have faded. People are beginning to realize they don’t need the exact same stuff as their neighbors; in fact, for the most part, each person has unique requirements to sustain and improve his or her standard of living.
Thankfully, technology is becoming more and more customizable. Instead of producing one item intended to suit all lifestyles, tech manufacturers should create the opportunity to adapt all technologies to individual ways of life. The popularity of e-cigarettes is the perfect example of the success of customizable tech, as e-cigs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors to suit unique tastes. Customization might not necessarily help tech advance, but it does make tech more applicable to individual situations, which is definitely better.
Laserdisc, Betamax, QR codes, Google Glass ― history is riddled with stories about amazing tech that didn’t catch on. After untold time and money spent developing these technologies, their creators were forced to admit defeat. However, the reason for their failure is obvious: They didn’t understand their audience.
Today, crowdsourcing is best known as a way to gain startup funds for new ideas or businesses, but the concept goes well beyond financing. It is possible to crowdsource for information, as well ― though most people prefer to call it research. By connecting directly with prospective consumers, developers can better understand exactly what people need in their tech. Then, the technologies they create will be perfectly suited to address audience wants and needs. With just a small amount of outreach, tech manufacturers can make radically better tech.
Often, tech with many capabilities is too overwhelming to use. One study found that users simply forget about any features beyond six, so a device that can accomplish 10 tasks at once is needlessly complex ― and likely late to market and too expensive, to boot. Though tech developers might enjoy the challenge of cramming as many capabilities as possible into a single product, for better tech, they should be doing the opposite.
Simple technology is becoming increasingly desirable thanks in part to the surplus of crushing flood of multi-feature tech. What users truly want is streamlined tech that is intuitive and effortless to use. Steve Jobs understood this desire, which is why Apple’s devices were so minimal and beloved during his reign. Stripping away unnecessary details and getting to the core uses of different devices will allow tech developers to advance the features consumers need and want most.
Because integrating hundreds of features on one device is not a tenable tech strategy, consumers are often faced with purchasing and assembling dozens of technologies when they have limited knowledge regarding interaction of products and features. The results can vary from fine (albeit not fantastic) functionality to perpetually fritzing tech.
All tech works best under specific conditions, but even those who deem themselves tech-savvy might not be fully aware of their setup’s deficiencies. Therefore, curating technologies into functional bundles ― like creating a package for gamers consisting of a high-processing CPU, a high-resolution monitor, and 5.1 speakers ― allows consumers to procure the best possible tech without fully understanding the capabilities they need. Curation is an easy task for tech developers that will result in better sales as well as better tech for the rest of us.