I’m going to start collecting corporate promotional videos that imagine a sterile touchscreen future of attractive and successful people using unlikely (but attractive) user interfaces. Starting with this new one from Microsoft:
In 2019, two years after desk clutter was outlawed in the US, office workers are all prescribed strong drugs to improve their focus and help them block out the distractions visible through their glass workstations. Witness the confusion of the asian worker who, while waiting for his train, briefly runs out of tasks to perform on his phone and quickly seeks out an interactive advertisement to occupy him for the next 30 seconds.
Microsoft Office Labs made a series like this last year too. In this film, children are segregated by race and only able to communicate through a glass screen that monitors their conversations and subtly introduces educational information based on keywords.
The office workers featured here believe they are working on an important environmental project, unaware they are actually test subjects in a productivity experiment being run by user interface designers. All of the subjects are project managers, supplied with and endless number of simple decisions and given data that looks highly technical, but contains little actual information. While the managers arrange meetings with each other and contemplate charts and diagrams, productivity amongst the core workforce goes up dramatically.
In this next video, a man awakes and immediately begins feeding his information addiction. In his every waking moment, information will compete for his attention from every available surface.
Later, a graphic designer works on a new wallpaper image for his phone. ‘Art Studio 5’ only allows the designer to make basic changes, so he leaves the creative decisions to the software. It chooses a grungy style that has become popular again in 2014.
He pretends to ask a colleague for his opinion, but both of them know that he is really just showing off his new 33″ glass monitor. It’s useless for real design work, but very trendy.
His colleague forces a smile. Their job evaluations are next week, and he knows the company considers hours smiled per-day to be an important performance metric. Maybe if he does well he can have a glass screen too.
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe the glass industry has become a legal monopoly which dictates that all technology must be glass-based, whether it makes sense or not.
A large cleaning force circles office buildings and public areas 24/7 ensuring that finger grease is removed from all surfaces to maintain the necessary futuristic sheen.