Now that we have an understanding of the third era of computing, what does this mean for products and experiences in the coming decade?
Our experiences with technology will look different, and it will most definitely feel different. But how so?
At Loomery, we believe this era of personal computing will be unbounded and computing will not be limited to spaces around us, not tied to a screen, location or time. Imagine having an infinite digital canvas with so much more space to play with by placing interfaces anywhere in the setting around you.
As devices get smaller and add a digital layer to the world around us, that breaking of computing boundaries will only continue.
The third era of computing is more knowing. More knowing about us, our setting, our expectations, our norms - and our preferences. Pre-empting our needs and pushing solutions.
Imagine going to a retail store in a spatial computing environment; it not only knows your shoe size, it also knows the styles you prefer and the clothes that you might match with the shoes, so it can project those onto you.
One of the fundamental characteristics of the third era is new forms of user interface. If you think about the arc of computing, the last 70 years has been one constant pursuit to create human<>computer interfaces which are more intuitive, more natural. The GUI, the mouse, the keyboard, multi-touch. These changed how we remediated human<>computer interaction.
We have now arrived at that next logical but major leap: natural language and natural expression. To be able to have natural language as the interface we have with computers has been the pursuit all along and we can now get to exercise that across all interfaces and applications.
In spatial computing, inputs will feel less like an interface, using natural actions and gestures. You see the interface in context, it’s augmenting the world for you.
As computing becomes unbounded, as a layer in life, operating in the background of life, with a data layer that is always working away knowing and predicting, fitting the needs of the user's core human behavioural traits and physical and mental state, responding to our natural language and expression… it all adds up to computing becoming invisible.
We believe 'computing' will feel less like a thing you do, and more like a continuous layer on 'real' life.
So what does this ultimately mean?
The third era will change our relationship with computers. We’ll interact with software and hardware in a completely different way.
Less reactive; more affirmative
Until now, technology has relied on our instruction to run; it’s acted in response to our controls and inputs; it’s been fundamentally reactive. Now, our devices, packed full of sensors, know more about us than ever (sometimes in a creepy way, but mostly in a helpful way!)
This proliferation of data, combined with self-reinforcing learning algorithms, which instruct themselves on ways to act and improve, change the paradigm. Technology is becoming more supportive, more proactive, more affirmative - more helpful.
Less distracting; more freeing
Whilst the second era put a supercomputer in our pockets, it also consumed our mental space and demanded our attention; diverting our focus with endless notifications and countless browser tabs.
We see this third era as one that - hopefully - moves us from computing that absorbs our attention, to computing that frees it up.
If the second era was a shift from being tied to a desk to being able to use computer power wherever you went; freeing location; then the third era is about freeing our attention.
Less addictive; more predictive
Some apps, we now know, are simply bad for our health.
The promise of machine learning, generative AI, and large language models is that we can break free from the infinite scroll, the doom scroll, to a paradigm where technology predicts what we want and need and proactively presents it to us.
Where the pull of the feed is lessened, because the push of the ‘AI brain’ tells us everything we need to know.
Less isolating; more connecting
The second era of personal computing connected many people - most of the planet in fact - but technology has also accelerated isolation and disconnection.
The modern software paradigm is inherently social, collaborative and connected.
Technology is more inclusive than ever, increasingly designed in consideration of the multitude of people’s needs, abilities and preferences. Third era computing means being present and connected, even if we’re not physically in the same place.
Less random; more reasoned
The entire history of computing has been about digitising people, places, things, and making sense of them. You digitise the world and try to reason and understand the world. ‘Information management’ is why Google and Microsoft exist.
The second computing era gave us cloud-hosted databases and data lakes… but what do you do with all this information? The best Apple Photos can do is show me a ski trip from 5 years ago. It’s too random.
In that context we have a new superpower, with the latest generation of AI we have a reasoning engine that allows us to start with a draft for any activity or task you want to complete. We have a reasoning engine that gives us predictive capability, that will give us insights and reveal patterns.
Computing becomes reasoned and assistive.
Experiences around us are already delivering on this promise.
Arguably, Alexa was and voice interfaces were at the vanguard, breaking out of the mobile paradigm together with other Smart Home devices.
More recently, we’re seeing this exciting proliferation of ‘co-pilot’ functionality: in all kinds of productivity apps from image editing like Adobe Firefly to coding like OverflowAI. AI that works alongside us, embedded into the apps we use every day.
We’re seeing adverts and creative media embracing generative content. We’re seeing companies built on top of GPT. 80% of Fortune 500 companies have registered ChatGPT accounts. We’re seeing incredible investment in third era companies. AI industry value is projected to increase by 13x over the next 7 years; growing by at least 120% year-over-year.
As the future technology writer Azeem Azhar says, this is the exponential age.
This new era is happening right now, at the meeting point of spatial computing and machine learning, and at Loomery we want to help your organisation get ahead of the competition. Find out more here.