MIT Media Lab instructor Rose explores the ramifications of the coming human-machine interface as it impacts the designs of and experiences we have with the things in our lives.
Screens are a dead end, writes the author in this futuristic foray into how best to shape the elements of our everyday lives: dealing with the weather, playing the guitar, driving, medical devices and medicines. In the future, we will want more tactility than we have with screens. But more to the point, and here Rose touches something significant to most of us, he wants the things we use or encounter each day to be invested with enchantment, to create an emotional connection with our “fabled desires,” stories that build from the past and have the hallmarks of becoming heirlooms. “The enchanted objects that will succeed will be the ones that carry on the traditions and promises of the objects of our age-old fantasies,” writes the author, “the ones that connect with and satisfy our fundamental human desires.” Rose’s requirements are both demanding and capacious: The objects must be suitable to the job and relatable to the worker, summon memories and stir emotions, be pleasurable to use and look at, and be able make us more skilled and capable. He is talking about things we know—wallets, lights, automobiles, etc.—so that we build upon lineage but enhance to gratify needs and drives and meet certain measures of affordability, lovability, durability and usability—wearable is another bonus. Occasionally, the author tosses around words like “omniscience,” “teleport” and “immortality,” taking some wind out of his examples, which are remarkable in their own rights: the narrative clip, which “captures photos every 30 seconds to give you a time-lapse lifelong” and the Mimo onesie, which “measures your infant’s respiration, skin temperature, body position, and activity level.”
A fine tour d’horizon of innovative enchantment and its ground rules and responsibilities.