"What makes something magical? Enchanted?
"I'm not talking about deceptive magic — tricks and sleight of hand. This book is about how to strategically design and develop products that are engaging and essential, that resonate with the latent needs of those who use them, and that create an emotional connection with us human beings. I have spent nearly twenty years developing Internet-connected things (toys, furniture, lighting fixtures, jewelry, and more), and I remain disappointed that so few products succeed in enchanting us. Instead, they are difficult to understand, frustrating to use, overwrought with features. They diminish rather than empower us.
"This book is meant to catalyze the imagination of designers, business strategists, and technologists to craft more delightful products and more enchanted experiences — and to remind everyone who uses Internet-connected things (which is all of us) that we should expect more from the tools, devices, and playthings that are such an enormous part of our lives.
"What's the secret to creating technology that is attuned to the needs and wants of humans? The answer can be found in the popular stories and characters we absorb in childhood and that run through our cultural bloodstream: Greek myths, romantic folktales, comic book heroes, Tolkien's wizards and elves, Harry Potter's entourage, Disney's sorcerers, James Bond, and Dr. Evil. They all employ enchanted tools and objects that help them fulfill fundamental human drives. In this book, I link the fictions and fantasies that so beautifully express these desires and the role of modern inventions. My goal is to change the way you think about computers and computer-driven things and how we interact with them.
"I teach at MIT's Media Lab, where one of the great benefits of my work is the constant stream of visitors who pass through day after day: business executives, dignitaries, musicians, architects, designers, technologists, and the occasional Hollywood producer. They come in search of insight into how our lives might be different in the future and how technological change might affect their work.
"One spring afternoon, J. J. Abrams — producer of the television series Lost, Fringe, and two Star Trek movies — stopped by to see demonstrations of prototype technologies and to talk about magic and science fiction. A few days after his visit he sent an email in which he asked a provocative question: 'Fifty years from now, what will computers be called?'
"He got plenty of responses from my students and colleagues. Syn. Neuro. Heisenberg. Mother. Your Excellence. One student, Katherine, replied, 'I think they will be called nothing. They will "be" us and power everything under the sun.' And Cesar agreed: 'Probably we will just say something like "I'm going in," ' and people will understand what they mean.
"The conversation that Abrams spurred was not really about names but rather about the relationship we will have — and want to have — with future technology. Do we want more tablets and screens? How do we feel about robots and wearables? What about enchanted everyday objects?
"What personality do we want our technologies to possess? Domineering or polite? Should our technologies look cold or cute? Do we want to interact with them as smart tools or as caring agents? Should every child be required to learn to code or is a zero learning curve the ideal? Do we want computers to become more human or humans to become more like computers?"