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One of the great paradoxes of technology is that we are always looking for ways to simplify our lives – whether that be at home or in business. And yet, often the simplest solution requires years of innovative thought to get there.
At its heart, simplification is about finding the most efficient way to solve a problem. It minimizes the number of steps it takes to reach a certain goal while minimizing the risk of things going wrong. But while in some cases simplification might be a case of getting things to run more smoothly (like adding a cable carrier to a pulley system to avoid snagging), in many cases, simplification requires the stripping back of a current solution and rebuilding to new specifications.
Interacting with Technology
One of the main difficulties people have with technological solutions is working out the best way to manage the system. At the very beginning of computing, ever instruction required someone to type in the correct code. This was a simple solution at the time but it just shows how we have progressed.
The simplest form of communication is a conversation. We do it all the time and barely have to think about it. Speaking comes naturally. This is why we are now using voice recognition technology for more and more things. Instead of using a remote to turn on the TV or speakers, you simply ask the computer to do it for you.
Speaking to a technology is a really efficient way to work as it comes naturally and is a quick way to give a complex instruction as opposed to programming using text. As long as the technology understands your accent, that is! But working as efficiently as possible isn’t going to be easy.
As technology grows more and more efficient, the next step, getting the next 1% is always going to be much harder to achieve because it may not be as obvious what you should do. Indeed, you may realise that as your efficiency grows, you need to change your tactics to advance further.
Asking the Right Questions
Of course, the real trouble with simplification is working out which questions to ask. What is it that makes a particular technology appear to be simple when another so complex? Where is the divide and how can you solve the problem? There are 100 questions you could ask but the most important one is this: what would a child expect to do?
Thinking from the perspective of a child will always bring you to the most intuitive route. Looking at how a child interacts with their world has already influenced major tech brands like Apple whose simplification is renowned with just one button and a touch screen. But once you know what you want to achieve, you’ll need to put a lot of complex work in to make it happen.
Behind every iPhone, there is years and years of experimentation. The simplest technologies are always doing all the complex work behind the scenes. This is why simplification is always complex. You can’t just make something happen: you have to hide the process too.