As evolutionary trends continue, emerging technologies are getting smaller, cheaper, and smarter — all of which push technology to become evermore ubiquitous. And as technologies continue to integrate into our daily lives through architectural environments, such innovations evolve to not only become more flexible, interactive and adaptable; but to eventually disappear.
This notion of “disappearing technology” is not a new one. In fact, during a recent seminar, Alvin Huang pointed out that the Father of Ubiquitous Computing, Mark D. Weiser, taught that “technology is at its most powerful when it disappears”. (1)
“Ubiquitous computing names the third wave in computing, just now beginning. First were mainframes, each shared by lots of people. Now we are in the personal computing era, person and machine staring uneasily at each other across the desktop. Next comes ubiquitous computing, or the age of calm technology, when technology recedes into the background of our lives.” (2) — Mark D. Weiser
This idea of “calm technology” is an interesting one as we consider how architectural technology is evolving into the future. And as such technology gets increasingly embedded in daily activities, it becomes important to ask:
What happens to environments once technology disappears?
As innovations in technology evolve, they will have definite effect on environments and the occupants whom they serve. But just what effects can we expect? And how will these change the way people live? The following are five key outcomes of calmer environmental technology.
Finding the boundary between architecture and technology will become increasingly difficult as the two continue to merge. Each relies upon the other to yield built form that aims toward increased comfort, more fluid experience, more natural interfacing, better design integration, and easier maintenance.
So, what happens to environments when technology disappears?
Hopefully, architectural space will become more about the designer’s intended vision. It will be increasingly possible to realize the complex (1), and it will be equally possible to make it experientially meaningful. Technology for architecture is not going away, it is simply becoming a given — where space can become transient, comfortable and poetic in entirely new ways.
(1) Gerber, David and Huang, Alvin. How to Succeed in Architecture: New Trends in Computing that will Change the Architecture Profession. Novedge Webinar. Streamed live: October 2, 2014. Accessed from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWrVvlDIixU#t=815
(2) Wikipedia. Mark D. Weiser. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Weiser
Image Caption: In the above image you can see technology disappearing and getting calmer in the evolution of lighting from a candle, to a tungsten bulb, to a fluorescent bulb, to a halogen bulb, to LED.
Image Credit: © chones | Fotolia
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