As the connected home and Internet of Things become more prevalent in society, there is a danger that designers could fall in to the trap of ‘designing landfill’ given the pace of change in technology, according to product design veteran Sebastian Conran.
Speaking today (23 September) at the London Design Festival at the V&A Museum, Conran expressed his concern that with rapidly evolving technology entering everyday products in our homes, the turnover of once long-lasting items will be akin to smartphone tech and warned of a risk of ‘technical redundancy’.
“[Think about] the life span of an iPhone which has been with us for seven years I’ve had four and how many tables have you been through? I expect my table to see me out, I don’t expect to have to get a new table every four years.
“If you build intelligent furniture which has got technology in it and you know that technology is going to be redundant we’re just designing landfill. We have to be able to separate the technology from the table so that we can make intelligent furniture but it’s not chained to the current technology.”
While items such as connected kettles, heating and smart furniture are gaining popularity among consumers (there are almost 14 billion connected devices currently in the world with that figure expected to rise to 50 billion in the next five years) the real benefit will be among the aging population who want to remain at home and maintain their independence, claimed Conran.
“The bigger the internet of things becomes and actually having the connected home and just being able to say to the kettle ‘boil’, the way that voice recognition is going at the moment theoretically one can do all these things [remotely]. But actually I quite like doing these things myself… I get pleasure from cooking a meal, in fact I get as much pleasure from cooking the meal as I do eating the meal.
“Life isn’t going to be just about having everything automatic because at the end of the day… where this internet of things will come interesting is when you’ve got issues with enhancing experiences later in life. There are huge opportunities to keep people as independent for as long as possible.”