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Apr 26, 2018 | 2 min read


“Who" are these new interfaces everyone’s talking about?

Portrait of these new characters who have become part of our lives

Marina Dislich

Communication Manager

We talk a lot about “new interfaces”. But what exactly do we mean? This April, FABERNOVEL INNOVATE is launching a special report investigating the direction(s), impact and opportunities offered by these new forces in our daily lives. Are you with us?

“New interfaces”: the term’s everywhere, and everyone’s interested. In the past twenty-four hours alone I must have seen three or four articles on the subject. Or at least I think that’s what they were about…
Because the big question is: what do we really mean by the term? What really is an interface? And what’s “new” about the most recent ones?

We all have our own opinions, beliefs and approaches. But we don’t all share the same definition!

Interface, n. :

A limit common to two systems, two sets, two devices.

Computing: A device that enables communication between two parts of an IT system (for example a graphical interface)

Personally, I read “interface” as “inter-faces”, and the term really brings to mind the meeting, whether physical or not, between two “beings”: human-machine, human-human, even machine-machine.

However, when I raised the issue with some of the designers in our open space, I realized that they defined interface in terms of interaction (predictably enough, given their obsession with the user experience). Meanwhile, our Data Architect seemed more interested in the technologies that make interaction possible. For our engineer and designer Thomas, the object itself is the first thing that springs to mind. There are many people (mainly business analysts) who think about the business opportunities, but also the challenges, that new interfaces represent- and where the war between Alexa and Google Home is just the tip of the iceberg.

As users, and as humans first and foremost, we inevitably wonder about the impact of these new “characters” on our own day-to-day lives, and on our society in general: Black Mirror’s dark visions of unfettered technology continue to provoke discussion (and stoke our fears). But the future doesn’t have to be so bleak, and it can also be fun to imagine the world of tomorrow, probably involving a lot of these “new interfaces” that everyone’s talking about… but that no one defines!

April always kicks off with a joke. Maybe you fell for our “high-tech April fool”, as Usine Digitale described it: Pinger, the office voice assistant created by our Lab is not really available for pre-order. Not yet, anyway. But the interface itself does exist. That’s not a joke: we dreamt it up, designed it and created it to make our daily lives easier. For Ferdinand Barbier, the designer behind Pinger, an interface is “something you interact with.” And his job is to define exactly what that “something” is. Because the term “interface” can be used to refer to a machine with a button, like Pinger, an application, a voice command or any number of other “things”: all of them different, all of them interfaces. Whatever form it takes, an interface is primarily a concept – the promise of optimised interaction – that transcends technical considerations and physical shapes.

Ferdinand’s vision is certainly idyllic. And we wanted to know what our other designers, engineers, architects and analysts thought.

As you can see, the aim of this report is to offer a “snapshot” of the interfaces of today and tomorrow. What are they? What do they do? How can they help us? And are they really “new”? Instead of attempting to offer an authoritative definition of this ambivalent term, we’ve invited everyone at FABERNOVEL INNOVATE to share their own vision with us (and with you). Follow us throughout April as we redefine and re-discover this huge subject together!

Are you interested in these subjects?

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