Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Knowledge Navigator Deconstructed: Building an Envisionment

How technology lets us communicate knowledge in more effective ways ...

"... Notebook-sized computers sporting video cameras, stereo sound, high-resolution LCD displays, video chat, voice command-and-control, and wireless network capabilities are not novel by today's standards. In many ways, the scenario is similar to experiences people regularly have today.

The team at Apple, inspired by the work of Alan Kay's Dynabook project, decided to imagine what computing could be like in 2010. They created this video, a 4-minute enactment, that would demonstrate their vision.

By today's standards, the technology showcasedin the video isn't very impressive. However, by 1987 standards, it could only be imagined. In that period, screens were 640x480 with 256 colors, video and high-quality audio were unheard of, and local-area networks, battery-powered notebooks, and an internet connecting the world were only just beginning to make an appearance in research labs. Tablet computing, wireless technology, and voice commands were still ten years away. Touchscreen interactions are just now coming into serious consideration. (The video's technology was so impressive that within a week Apple had received a purchase order for a unit from an impatient customer.)

What was most impressive about this envisionment wasn't the advanced technology they predicted. Nor was it the seamless experience of the professor, who quickly employed all these tools to focus on his lecture presentation without much distraction.

The most impressive aspect of the envisionment is how it guided Apple's design direction for the subsequent twenty years. In 1991, 4 years after the envisionment's release, Apple produced its first notebook computer, the Powerbook 100. A few years later, they introduced the Newton, predecessor to today's tablet PCs. The Knowledge Navigator has inspired Apple's high-powered desktop computers and today's MacBook Pro, which features the built-in audio and video capabilities sported in the video's device. We can easily see the iPhone as a next step in this same technology vector, sporting multi-touch and high-resolution internet capabilities."    (Continued via UIE)    [Usability Resources]

Knowledge Navigator At Work - Usability, User Interface Design

Knowledge Navigator At Work


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