Why We Don’t Have Videophones or Intelligent Fridges

I was supposed to go to Design Engaged last week, but unfortunately had to drop out, and thus missed Nicholas Nova‘s talk “inflated deflated futures”. But now, thanks to Slideshare, I’ve had a chance to view it. And it’s great.

Nova’s premise is that there are all these failed products that predicted a future that has never happened. Products like the videophone and the smart refrigerator and the 3D web that companies keep trying to do over and over again.

The presentation goes on to diagnose some causes: designers being trapped in the zeitgeist, for instance. Or the instability of time. Of particular note to product designers is the utilitarian fallacy: “a tendency to think that people want/must have products to optimize their lives.” I think that’s how almost every project I’ve ever worked on has been described.

Required viewing.