Triggered by the recent release of Apple’s new iPod Shuffle with it’s size barrier breaking and usability paradigm shifting design by eliminating every button on the device I revisited my presentation I gave 5 years ago on my view of miniaturization and wearable electronics.
Electronic products get smaller with every new generation and at the same time the space for usability, the controls where the user can decide how to use a device, is getting smaller to a point where usability becomes ‘unusability’.
Tech savvy people will have (for now) no problems to operate the latest and smallest iPod shuffle but what about ‘Joe the Plumper’? Will he and many other people not as fine handed as the dedicated (Apple) geek community be able to operate such ever shrinking products?
There is no question that technology will enable even smaller devices as the current iPod Shuffle. In a not so distant future an MP3 player will fit into in-ear headphones. But how are we going to operate them? By shaking the head: 2x left = fast forward, 1x left is next song, ….
Or would it make more sense to snap on electronic functions onto our clothing or bags that contain the user interface structure. Clothing provides a lot of space and millions of options to interact with our shrinking electronic devices.
On a larger scale, the integration of such electronic infrastructure could come for only a little more cost of a garment but it can give a lot of usability comfort to consumers not able or willing to shuffle via Morse code button press action through the play lists.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully support the miniaturization of electronic. Nobody likes to carry around huge devices. I am only concerned about how to interact with this miniaturized devices in future.
Morse code input is one option but I would like to see more options consumers can choose from. Wearable electronic can and will provide another option.