Technology so advanced a caveman could use it?

It’s an interesting contradiction that the further technology advances, the simpler and more instinctive it becomes to use.

Take the addictive interface functionality of an iPad or iPhone, for example. Watching people using it with simple, intuitive finger movements and hand gestures, it makes me wonder just how instinctive digital interactivity can become. (I mean, even cats are using it for Chrissakes. Such as these two cool customers, chillaxing with fish on an iPad, licking each other’s ears lazily and listening to rude music.)

After all, when you think about it, the so-called enablers of interactivity we have been using for many years – pesky mice, for example – were nothing more than artificial, not-very-instinctive barriers.

That’s probably why Kinect lays the clues for the potential of digital interactivity going forward. And why many agencies – ours included – are consuming copious quantities of tea and little shortbread biscuits investigating ways that Kinect-esque hand-movements can be used to interesting ends in digital marketing campaigns.

Indeed, sometimes these techniques can act as the very idea itself, such as this slick piece of work for the Swedish Armed Forces recruitment campaign.

And who says you need an interface at all when you can just remember it in your imagination? This video of an experiment using depth-sensing cameras is still interesting, and shows how reducing everything back to a blank canvas, in navigation terms could be intriguing, and not a little bit freaky (imagine the looks you’d get, scrolling through your emails in public.)

But this return to the simple and instinctive as technology continues to develop isn’t restricted to just interactivity. The popularity of social media channels also show that we may be (in contrast to being the lonely, screen-obsessed individuals that some sections of the media makes us out to be) ‘returning to the intensely social animals that we evolved to be’, as June Cohen, Director of Media for TED Talks thinks.

The propensity to share stories, the impulse to communicate with those around us who share common values and interests, to express ourselves, these absolutely fundamental human traits are having barriers removed from them all the time, thanks to the evolution of technology. Here are but two examples; one using eye-tracking technology, and one altogether more frivolous, but no less interesting, example: some fun future thoughts from Toyota unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show recently. (A car where drivers can change the colour of the body to suit their mood? Mine would trundle around in a constant blur of all the colours of the rainbow, depending on how much coffee I’d been getting through that day.)

So much is possible. And all the opportunities offered by empowering people to communicate in the simplest, fastest, most immediate, and most instinctive ways are a very exciting thing for marketing. Especially when you consider that, as some may claim, users decide whether or not they want to interact with a brand message within a second or two of seeing it.

  • Peter

    I’m sorry Jeremy but I can’t in good conscience agree: those cats are chillaxing with a mouse on the iPad, not fish.

  • Jeremy Garner

    Aha! Well spotted.