Our new hybrid lives: Tactile virtual experiences and hardware that lives with us

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With the advent of hybrid models in many aspects of society, it is clear that although they offer incredible flexibility, the boundary lines between work and personal life are becoming increasingly blurred and less emotionally draining. .

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Ritual has always been a powerful force in shaping our mental and emotional states; The gathering of people, the physical totem, wardrobe and space design all serve to choreograph that experience. But for people in the hybrid workforce, many of the rituals they’ve become accustomed to are no longer accessible—their daily work experience involves no gathering, no change in location, and little (if any) wardrobe change. Is.

We’re doubling down on hybrid virtual experiences, even though studies show that young people who stare at screens for more than seven hours a day are more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and have more difficulty completing tasks. Is. In addition, employees are reporting fatigue and exhaustion from a sea of ​​back-to-back meetings that are spread across multiple time zones, making the days feel endless.


Given that much of the population currently relies on computing devices to engage in everything from work and school to shopping, banking and healthcare, how do we design and develop those devices to better equip us? are doing, it needs to start paying more attention. For new rituals for the hybrid virtual world.

Today, computing devices are responsible for every possible scenario, from traditional desktop workstations to ultra-portable handheld mobile phones. But what if the design of these items could help users enforce the boundaries between work and personal life?

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For example, a device with the keyboard in front of the screen conveys a “productivity tool,” while a touch tablet experience feels more casual and entertainment-focused. What if remote workers could have the option of switching between these two modalities to switch from “work” to “personal”?

Another area that has come into the tech spotlight is video chat and conferencing tools. For many of us, most of our conversations are now going through virtual meetings on video conferencing apps. HD webcams and ring lights have been in high demand, and the number of virtual backgrounds and effects increases manifold every day.

But there are still many challenges and limitations to the videoconference experience, partly because it is heavily dependent on hardware design. Tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Teams are all racing with the latest upgrades, but software can only go so far without having to deal with hardware constraints like integrated light sources, better audio or even tactile response.

However, if we start to embrace these paradigm shifts in the virtual in-person, we can begin to design for the future normal with hardware upgrades such that the camera lens is no larger than a single pixel that is embedded in the screen. Disappears to make it appear that users are in direct contact with their peers. Other areas, such as the application of temperature and tactile technologies, can help us feel a deeper connection with each other through virtual space. There may also be new possibilities in the discovery of olfactory technologies as immersive experiences continue to develop.

But what does this hardware development really look like when it comes to production and consumption? While the expediency and convenience of the technology is certainly impressive, it comes at a cost to our planet.

Have consumers become the wicked of the earth?

When I think of my most precious possessions, the only thing they have in common is that they are old and rare. Of course, this is specific to valuables, but why couldn’t we bring this value system into our technical products? While I swap out my iPhone every year or two, I’m very happy to upgrade the parts on my Ducati motorcycle little by little. I would never even think of throwing it away for a brand new one.

As consumer demand for sustainable solutions grows, hardware companies must adjust their offerings. A powerful brand like Apple can be a great leader in strong regenerative practices. Building your own desktop PC is nothing new (especially for hardcore gamers) but imagine a future where all portable technology is modular with swappable upgrades. What if 50 years from now, your smartphone from 2025 is still a functional and highly valued piece of vintage technology?

The reality of our new normal is that the plethora of tools is not going away, while software development continues to make leaps and bounds. Now is the time to think of our devices as objects to keep and take care of, repair and refurbish things like phones and computers so that we can keep up with the latest advancements, just like we do in our cars or our do with homes.

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