The Humanization of Technology – Steve Jobs, Apple iPhone and the Finger.

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With the advent of electricity, technology was introduced to humanity. Lightbulbs  extended the useful hours in the day, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and other labour saving devices helped make chores less of a..  well…   chore.

Radio and Television programming helped an entire generation stay up to date with the world and the age of the telephone created the ‘Teenager’.

Human beings have an in-built need to  exist  as a tribe rather than as an individual. Right from the start, Technology empowered humanity to be more connected, communicate more efficiently, be more relational and more informed.

Every development of technology helped decrease the perceived distance between people and helped them be more connected as individuals as well as tribes.

With the state of technology in 2012, person to person communication is almost instantaneous. With voice and visual communication available for free in most parts of the world.

Technology continues to improve though, and  we are coming full circle where Once people changed their lifestyles in order to use technology in order for technology to help them be more human…

Now, People are  inventing technology that will  enhance the experience of connectivity while not requiring the user to change behavior or mindsets while connecting. Essentially,  reducing the barriers to communication and relating. In the course of this process, many devices were invented in order to allow humanity to interfsce with teh technology. These devices included remote controls, telephone handsets and computer mice.

In 2007, Steve Jobs announced the launch of the iPhone. Until that time, the primary means of interfacing with a mobile screen was with a stylus.

In the keynote, he announced that Apple was not going to use a stylus based control for the iDevice. The main input would be,

the Finger.

I was initially surprised as I felt the it would not be accurate  enough and hence would slow down the experience, i.e. adding more barriers and therefore  making it more difficult to engage.

However, as I used my iphone, I was pleasently  surprised at how ‘human’ the whole experience was. It wasnt perfect but it was intuitive, it seemed to pick up cues from what was being done and  respond accordingly.

The typing was  much maligned  but at perhaps 90% accuracy it was more  accurate than the majority of human interactions. The best part was that it was able to learn. Accuracy gradually improved as the phone learned about your typing habits. However, it was human enough to make little freudian slips as shown by DYAC.

Yes, Nokia’s autocorrect  functions were able to ‘learn’ as well but it was always a device  that required one to pick up signals with the eye, process, type with  fingers  and respond to words appearing on the screen. i.e. Non-intuitive .  The iPhone’s eye->screen->finger   process is so much more , Human.

This was not a ‘feature’ of the iphone, it was a fundamental basis for the design of the iPhone.  Steve Jobs mentions in another interview, “If you need a Stylus, you have already failed. That drove everything. ”  ->  here

With one Masterstroke, Apple re-conceived the technology. They understood a fundamental human need to remove barriers from communication, did away with handwriting (which is learned) and brought forth an age of poking, pointing touching and dragging. All intuitive, untaught actions. This along with the ipad allowed us a glimpse into a new world of a tactile  web, bringing engaging technology closer to being human,  than ever before possible.

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JoelThe Humanization of Technology – Steve Jobs, Apple iPhone and the Finger.