The Future Of Interface Design

April 7, 2009 • By

What will interfaces be like in 2020? It’s hard to predict what the future will be made of, but current experiments regularly give us hints of what 2020’s interfaces could look like. Don’t take what you read in this article for granted, but be assured that the future will be a cool place for geeks to live in.

Better and more intuitive devices interaction

The Microsoft Surface video demo created a real buzz on the web, it even got its own hilarious parody. The object is already available for sfale, but I sincerely doubt it will go big with the actual pricing and format. On the other hand, I think that the intuitive interface with object interaction will be used broadly in a near future. Another good example of what can be achieved with sensitive multi-touch interface is the stunning Perceptive Pixels technology.
For those of you who are into music, the Audiopad is a great example of the power of interactive multi-touch technology.

Everyday devices connected to the Internet

The Kitchen of the Future

In 2020, there is no doubt that access to the Internet from the television will be very familiar. But what about kitchen devices? Wouldn’t be great to give the ingredients to your oven, then get appropriate available recipes you can cook with these ingredients. A concept for such a kitchen already exists, and there will be even better than this by 2020.

Multi-touch, without touching the screen


Remember the movie “Minority report” and the cool screen interface Tom Cruise was working with? You probably thought that you would never see this in action. Well, get ready to have your mind blown by this video demonstration of the Oblong technology, and maybe in 2020 it will be affordable, who knows?

Microsoft SideSight is another interesting project that takes the iPhone’s multi-touch one step further. You can use it without touching the screen (demo), which means a cleaner screen. Now let’s see where Microsoft will take this by 2020.

Interactive and intuitive user interfaces for better browsing

Aurora by Mozilla labs

A few very interesting demos are available on the web to give a glimpse of what the future computers user-interface could look like. One comes from Mozilla Labs and is named Aurora , it’s a concept video showing a lady browsing the web and her everyday Internet experience. It’s arousing to see how they imagined the icons organized into some kind of overlapping clouds. Even better, the way the lady gets her browsing going from one interface to another.
Another cool prototype of the future’s interface is the BumpTop 3D Desktop. This interface is inspired by real-world organization of your desktop, allowing to create and organize piles, re-size files and toss them around. The demo is really worth watching.

Gesture based interfaces

Cyber Woman

The Wii-mote by Nintendo was certainly the first step towards gesture-based interfaces, but probably not the last one. Apple seems interested in taking that path too. In fact, they recently patented a new technology that would allow to mix multi-touch with voice, camera and force sensors. This would open a new world of computer-human interaction, making the whole process much more natural.
Another prototype has been released recently, it was showcasing a wearable gesture interface . It uses a camera, a projector and colour markers that you wear at the tip of your fingers to let you interact with anything you look at. The project is named SixthSense, and you should definitely take a look at the demo.

Interfaces aware of context


In this video, David Merrill demoes the latest technology his team developed. The Siftables are interactive computers the size of a cookie. In the video, you can clearly see how far this could take us by 2020, the devices are aware of other devices and react accordingly. For now, the only examples given are used for gaming or educational purposes, but the technology looks very promising and could definitly influence mobile interface of the future.

New materials that will influence UI

Napkin PC

Ever dreamt of a folding phone? Well, this could be commonly used in 2020, along with Napkin PC or realistic e-paper. The Napkin PC especially caught my attention since the concept has been created for creative professionals and seems to be perfect for brainstormings. The use of napkin PC as an alternative to printing also amazed me.

About the author: Mirko Humbert is a freelance designer from Switzerland. He shares his thoughts about his passion on his design blog. To connect with Mirko, you can follow him on Twitter.

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