Smart Dumb Things

What's possible when the world has a digital interface

Ambient Computing: peaceful coexistence
with technology

The future of computing is not about escape. It is about us, and the amplifying force it has on our own abilities, in the world we already live in. As the mobile phone placed digitally augmented life in our hands, spatial and ambient computing will give us the same value, heads-up and hands-free. It will coalesce from multiple technologies and inputs, ultimately empowering the real world and its real inhabitants.

Smart Dumb Things is our smart home vision that brings ordinary objects to life through technology. Projected interfaces activate the environment around you, adding layers of functionality to your real-world experience without the unnecessary overhead of multiple devices. The concept reconsiders our interactions with computers and their place in our lives.

People playing a game with Interactive Light

Computer-less computing

IoT, wearable mobile computing, mixed reality, and other forms of ubiquitous computing have captured our imaginations. They promise to deliver the virtues of computing without the burden of never-ending upkeep for unwieldy devices.

The logical next step is to expand our concept by an order of magnitude: our whole environment must become Smart. We can equip rooms with the ability to see and hear us, and to project information back onto the surfaces of the room, tables, walls and floors. This solution will not only reduce the overhead, but it will encourage a natural compatibility with our digital assistants.

The Smart Room will allow us to virtually assign ‘Smartness’ to a wide range of dumb objects there. A light switch no longer needs to be wired, or even mechanical. A drawing placed on the wall can serve the same purpose. The Smart room, operating silently in the background, is able to observe and assist on our behalf. Any traditional object can become a temporary means to govern any functionality you can imagine, keeping you immersed in the environment and unplugged from devices.

Heads-up and hands-free

The computing landscape has transitioned from desktop screens to handheld devices, each iteration amplifying our digital presence to a substantial degree. The next pattern of computing will be undetectable—invisible machines assisting us quietly and intuitively.

In a Smart room augmented with computing power, you don’t need a headset or controllers to be a part of the experience. Every object in the room can be customized for different functions, allowing each person to decide the nature of their interaction with the projected interface in a way that feels logical to them.

The new interaction model for the next pattern of computing seamlessly integrates with our natural world, establishing a path to widespread consumer adoption.

The Smart Room brings us into a healthier relationship with technology. It allows us to have our computers in our world, operating quietly and invisibly around us, so we don’t have to spend as much time with our heads buried in gadgets.

Mark Rolston

Founder & Chief Creative Officer, argodesign

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