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For the Future of Tech, Look to Kids Not Adults
By Iliyas Ong, 07 Jul 2011
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The future of technology can be found not in the Apples or Googles of today but in the minds of children, believes research firm Latitude Research.
The company recently polled more than 200 children aged 12 and under from across the globe, asking them to draw the answer to the question: “What would you like your computer of the internet to do that it can’t do right now?”
From the submitted sketches, Latitude concluded the kids “wanted technology to be more interactive and human, better integrated with their physical lives, and empowering to users”, it said in its research report.
Latitude said the overwhelming majority of the children created techologies that “seamlessly meld online and offline experiences”, such as computers that “print real food or that allow the user to touch objects displayed on the screen”.
Computers that are “more human” also placed highly on kids’ imaginations, Latitude said. “Only half of the kids envisioned technologies that used the standard keyboard/mouse interface, while 46% went for more fluid interfaces: touchscreen, verbal/auditory, gestural, and even telepathic in some cases,” the firm wrote.
Empowering technologies, such as computers able to teach users how to cook or speak a different language, were also something the children said they wanted. “Kids want technology to either act as a companion—a friend they can enjoy various activities with—or as a tool that empowers them to grow and express themselves,” Latitude analyst Jessica Reinis said.
But while some ideas were doable, like a 12-year-old from Mumbai, India, who imagined a draw-to-search interface on Google instead of the familiar type-to-search one, others were firmly planted in sci-fi territory. For example, a four-year-old Spaniard wanted a Tron-esque computer for her to enter and explore digital places.
To illustrate its findings, Latitude published a brief infographic on the subject (see above). Useful or not, these sketches shatter our expectations of technology, and who knows—what looks silly today might just be the blueprint for tomorrow’s Facebook.
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