I’ve Seen The Future And It Requires An Instruction Manual

If you have three minutes, watch this video from an advanced sciences group at MIT.

They demonstrate how augmented reality, combined with a flexible graphical user interface (basically a touchscreen tablet), can create new opportunities for controlling devices. It’s remarkable technology and truly an amazing scientific achievement.

It isn’t, however, remarkable design. True, it adds all sorts of arcane usability extensions, but it also adds overwhelming complexity in the process. Which means it complicates the object’s primary use, rendering it worthless to all but the most deeply engaged, niche audiences. The shortest distance between object and function is elegant design.

It makes total sense for scientists to pursue these avenues, searching for ways to improve human lives. But it’s amazing how often marketers get themselves in trouble by confusing possibility and relevance. In a time-starved world, people don’t have time for complication. Because no one likes reading operating instructions.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson