Posted by Ashleigh Allsopp 25 July 2013
Interview: Interactive designer says our wallpaper could soon be touchscreen
The founder of one of the UK's most innovative design studios, Universal Everything, envisions a future in which every surface, including our wallpaper, is a touchscreen display.
We sat down with the founder of Universal Everything, Matt Pyke, to talk about how we might be interacting with the technology around us ten years from now.
Matt started Universal Everything eight years ago, and since then the studio has worked with a number of big clients including Audi, Apple, Coldplay, Chanel, Nike, Hyundai and the V&A.
Most recently, the studio created 'Gliders', an interactive installation for Intel that lets visitors use Intel's touchscreen ultrabooks to create their very own Glider through the use of touch, movement and sound, and then launch the Glider so that it can join the other creations on a big screen.
See also: all laptop reviews
Matt says that, since the start of Universal Everything, he's noticed the growing ubiquity of screen surfaces. "The cost of giant screens is coming down, so you're seeing them in retail stores, galleries, stadiums. You can see them up the side of an entire skyscraper," he says.
Going forward, Matt believes that the prevalence of screens across many different surfaces will be key to the way we interact with design and technology in the future. "You're seeing them in cars, we've started to get them on t-shirts. Eventually there will be touchscreen and interactive wallpaper. It doesn't necessarily mean it will be a passive wallpaper type experience, it will be something interactive as well."
Matt thinks that the way we use technology in the future could hang on the success of the cloud and online services. He suggests that, in 10 years' time, we could access everything on any device. And as screens find their way into more and more surfaces, almost anything could provide access to your digital world.
"Based on things like fingerprint recognition or voice recognition, whatever surface will be completely aware of you," Matt imagines. "So I could touch your phone and it would bring up my contacts, or I could touch this table and it would bring up all my holiday photos."
"It's amazing how quickly the world changes. My friend's little kid thinks everything is a touchscreen. That's the way it's going."
New wearable devices like Google Glass have intrigued Matt too, not only as another example of screens creeping onto new surfaces, but also because they could stop us from staring at our phones all the time. "You miss what's going in, it's bad for your posture too."
"The more screens become something where it's not about holding your device at all, it's just everywhere, it's great," he says.
An Apple TV App Store is something that's also high on Matt's wishlist as a designer. "That medium for us in terms of creating digital art, where the television in your living room can become a canvas for more meditative work rather than just advertising or high octane entertainment. That'll be really interesting."
At the moment, there's not much control for the end user to customise or personalise their experience of technology, says Matt. "Millions of people in the world are using the same aesthetic on Apple's operating system of Windows operating system. For me, that'll be the next thing. Not just assuming that millions of people in the world want to be constrained to one designer's taste or one design group's aesthetic."
"I think that if interactivity and interfaces that people use in the future can be customised to suit different types of people – everyone wants a different look. That's one thing I think technology is lacking."