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Connecting The Unconnected: What If We Have It All Wrong?

July 22, 2013
at 4:57 pm PST

The internet of everything (IoE) is about connecting the previously unconnected. When most people think about creating these connections, they think about doing so by adding sensory technology to inanimate objects, thereby making objects “smarter.”

What if we have this paradigm all wrong? What if the approach shouldn’t be about adding sensory technology to inanimate objects, but rather adding a sensory system into our entire world – one that provides recall memory, recording and feedback capabilities – effectively making our real world into one giant virtual world?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a well received guest post on this blog that discussed the balance between technology and humanity, and the balance that is achieved by implementing submissive design.

This morning I watched the spine-tingling TED Talks video below which takes submissive design to a much deeper and exponentially more exciting level, and I just had to share it with you!

The video is about 5 minutes in duration and the speaker, Jinha Lee, explores the notion of shortening the physical distance between us and our technology across the board. The screen-shots below from the video depict the shrinking gap between us and our computing devices:

Connecting The Unconnected

In the video, Lee poses one of the most profound questions I’ve ever heard about our connection to technology and how we interface with it –  “What if there could be no boundary at all?”

Lee inadvertently describes the epitome of submissive design in human-computer interaction – an interface that has no barrier whatsoever (that we can perceive) between hardware, software and our world. Imagine an environment where ordinary objects are so connected, that connections aren’t even apparent in a conventional sense…it’s so unbelievable it almost sounds crazy!

If you read my last post, you’d know I’m most excited about how the IoE will affect healthcare, and I feel that way because healthcare affects everyone on this planet.

Imagine a hospital environment where used needles “know” exactly how to dispose of themselves, bio-hazard receptacles “know” precisely when they’re full and how to empty out into the right locations, and hospital beds “know” exactly where to be (to optimize patient intake and space).

Now imagine a world where a doctor that pioneered a new technique to perform a specific specialized surgery, could perform the surgery on a dummy, and for med students or other doctors to be able to grab hold of a scalpel, and for that scalpel to guide them through that same specialized procedure.

On a broader level, imagine if your dinner table could literally set itself with plates and silverware and if chairs knew how to pull themselves out for you and push themselves in as you sit. What about skis that could literally take you down the most advanced groomed ski slopes autonomously, flips and everything, or roller skates that could teach you to skate?!

This reality is entirely possible if Lee’s work continues to progress, and employing connective technology that utilizes this paradigm may be the final bridge fusing our physical and virtual worlds.

If you could pick one thing in your life you could make “smarter” using these advanced connective techniques, what would it be?

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4 Comments.


  1. I love this thinking. My idea is implement this technology on businesses like fast food restaurant or restaurants of any kind. They throw away a ton of food daily, they need a major improvement on how much to stock and prepare to help minimize, first and foremost, wasted food. This will also help improve their business expenses and profits.

       2 likes

  2. July 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    @Dolores – If you’re bringing this tech to the fast food industry, how about setting it up so your orders automagically levitate over to your table, or through your car window? Once we begin to really think about optimizing systems using this type of technology as our paradigm, we’ll begin to discover some truly revolutionary implementations! Thank you for your comment!

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  3. David Deans

    A very interesting topic.

    You know, Isaac, the prototype demonstrations in the video made me wonder about 3D TV displays — What if we have it all wrong?

    Perhaps rather than have the technology be limited to the typical 3D movie entertainment, a better use of a 3D TV could be educational applications for children.

    Imagine a Bluray disc that is loaded with 3D lessons on science, geometry, etc. — perhaps now those 3D glasses may be put to a good use.

       1 like

    • July 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Thank you, David, and I love the way you think! Education is one industry that hasn’t changed much over the past 200 years so it’s definitely ripe for a major disruption, and I could easily see 3D technology becoming a big part of that change. Thank you for your comment!

         0 likes