The physical world wasn’t built for $500 devices we need every other minute. This is never more obvious than when I strain my back and curse like a sailor because my phone has fallen into the gap beside my car or plane seat. As tech companies obsess over usability, the thoughtlessness that mars the meatspace comes into painfully sharp relief.
Excuse my hyperbole and quiet your calls of “first-world problems!” That’s where I live. We’re shifting from stationary matter to mobile 1s and 0s. If we don’t ditch the vestiges of yesteryear, we’re going to end up like awkward
A decade or two ago, that black hole between your car seat and door posed less of a threat. You weren’t fiddling with critical hand-held objects. Worst case scenario, your wallet slipped into that crumb-filled hell and you got it when you parked.
Now, getting to your destination might require the sliver of technology now firmly wedged where no human hand can reach. I have almost run off 280 freeway in a fiery Apple Maps logo-esque disaster a number of times trying to extract my phone. When my only source of music, entertainment, and work slipped beneath my seat-cushion personal flotation device on a recent international flight, I tweaked my back contorting to fish it out.
Pants aren’t tailored to fit our phones, and outlets to charge them are located across the room from our beds. Yes, these are whiny little examples, but they’re just symbols of the grander incompatibility between yesterday and tomorrow.
So let’s start designing with a mobile future in mind. I bet the first car company to advertise “no more seat crevices” would win some lucrative Generation XYZ cred. Clothing brands and home decorators, heed the call. Otherwise, go out and numb someone else’s pain points. Sew phone pockets onto jeans, sell iPhone charger extension cables, or go work for DropStop, the original patented solution to driver distraction.
No matter what you build, put some thought into how to smooth friction for the cyborgs we’re becoming.