2009, What a Year It Has Been, and What a Decade It’s Going to Be.

The 1956 House of the Future

Last New Year’s Eve if someone had walked up to me and told me all the things that were going to happen in the next 365 days to me, I would have laughed. Seriously. One year ago today I had no intention of moving from my Union Hill home of 10 years to Kansas City Kansas. I had no intention of buying a new car, or getting a second dog. The trip to South Africa was still in its infancy, and I had serious doubts about having the finances to make the trip. All of this did happen though, and it has made for a very interesting year. Well interesting last 6 months because literally all of this has happened since July.

I have to say that I am very grateful and thankful for how amazing 2009 has been for me personally. Many of my friends and colleagues have lost jobs, or had other personal set-backs in their health and finances. I have been lucky, and fortunate to not be in that situation. My heart goes out to those that haven’t been, and I wish for them a happy and prosperous 2010 and decade ahead.

I really believe that the next year and the next decade is going to be an explosive period of growth for everyone. The last ten years have seen phenomenal growth in technology and science, and in the last half of this decade design has once again been recognized as a major factor in shaping business growth.

In 1999, who would have thought that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook would have become major online gathering spaces for millions of interconnected end users? Not many. In 1999 the hottest things going were lengthy animated Flash intros for your website and online shopping experiences that didn’t suck. Things like convergence media were really just dreamy ideas that many thought unfeasible due to bandwidth and other technology issues. But as this decade closes out those dreamy ideas are rapidly becoming a reality.

Many people disagree with this, but by the end of the next decade the way you experience television, the internet, your phone, the dashboard of your car, and other devices will have changed completely. Verizon’s FiOs is a current example of the beginning of real integrated media. The widgets that run on your TV while you watch connect you to the internet. To things like Twitter, or your Fantasy Football league, so you can tweet, and check how your team is doing, all in real-time while what ever you are watching plays in the background. Blueray Live is another example of this. Who would have imagined ten years ago that you would be able to talk to the director of the movie you are watching via your DVD player? Not many, but Blueray live not only allows this, but much more, all because of the net connection on the player itself.

As these technologies continue to emerge and expand, their ubiquity will guarantee that media convergence is going to happen.

A scenario to think about goes something like this. You are driving in the family car with your kids. In the back seat your two children watch movies that are streamed via Netflix to your car. In the driver’s seat you use the integrated GPS unit to make sure you are going the right way, then you connect to your phone which is talking to the GPS. You call the hotel to make sure your room is ready. In the meantime your spouse sends a text message to the kids in the back seat, (They have headphones on and are engrossed in the movies) the text pops up on-screen telling them you’ll be at the hotel in 45 minutes. Each can reply via the touch screen monitor. After texting the kids, your spouse pulls up Twitter, tweets your trip status, pulls up Open Table, makes reservations for dinner, then with picture in picture loads a film on to the screen with the GPS giving navigation on the side. Using the chat widget your spouse also starts a chat session with friends in the town you are going to making plans for tomorrow’s fun. In the back seat, one of your children’s monitors receives a phone call via it’s paired phone, they touch the screen to answer, and the movie pauses…

This might sound a bit far-fetched, and the description is a bit over the top, but the reality is that much of this technology is available today in one form or another. The trick for the next decade is the seamless integration of all these technologies. Seamless integration that allows you to be connected to all forms of communication, entertainment, guidance, shopping, etc. at any given point in your day. And while it might seem odd to think of people actually wanting this and using this, 10 years ago it would have been hard to think of people shopping online from their smart phone.

So as 2009 rolls out, and  new decade rolls in I see amazing things in everyone’s future. As a designer, I am so excited the possibilities, and looking forward to all of it.