The user interface has been natural in its evolution and strategically heading towards the 3D-projection holographic interface (3D-PHI) era.
Since its conception (~1960) user interface have been evolving for very much to work intuitively for 3D-PHI. User interface growth and improvements has been consistent with technology, human behaviours and learnings for seamless adoptability for the start of 3D-PHI in near future (~2030).
The UI evolution has been like,
Flat numerical, textual UI and no graphics (~1960)
Then icons and graphics (~1972)
Then flat graphical UI elements with shadows (~1985)
Colourful visual design elements with shadows (~1995)
Bubbly UI elements with shiny gloss (~2000)
Flat transparent UI elements with gradients and border (~2008)
Flat UI elements with solid fill and border (~2011)
Flat transparent UI elements with solid fill and no border (~2016)
Start of flat UI elements with thin borders, no fill, lesser content(~2018)
Dark mode, thin, simple and minimum elements(~2019)
I think the upcoming would be,
11. Neon colour themes over dark mode (~2022)
12. Monochrome neon themes over dark mode (~2025)
13. Start of maturity in gestural interfaces (~2026)
14. Baby steps towards 3d-projected interactive user interface (~2026)
15. Combination of matured gestural and 3d-projected hologram technologies for 3D-PHI (~2030).
All these continuum changes in UI from 1 to 10 have been and 11 to 15 would be a meaningful evolution to reach 3D-PHI. It seems 70% of this journey is already covered to reach to 3D-PHI.
The UI Evolution
Lets go through UI’s step-by-step evolution which have been changing with technology, business-users needs and user learnings. Also, how various design oriented jobs have been identified or came in need with time.
~1960 to 1978— Data Interface computers.
~1983-1990— Pixel based graphical UI elements. Desktop applications. Icon designer roles came in demand. Design field is introduced as UX and user centric design practices.
~1995-2001 — Flat graphical UI elements with tabs and shadows. Desktop applications. Visual designers and graphic designers role came in demand by competitive business needs.
~1997–2003 — Mobile phone technology is innovated. Web applications. Mobile and Web GUI. Designer roles like interaction designer, visual designer, UI designer, UX designer took baby steps for business growth and design values.
~2001–2006 — Trend of bubbly UI elements with shiny gloss. Designers roles had established like UX designer, interaction designer, visual designer, UI designer and gone well realised and defined slowly depending upon companies design values and awareness.
~2007-2011— Touch-gesture technology. Smart Phones.Skeuomorphic UI.Boom in UX design field and job roles due to raised market competition. Boom in designers demand. Start of mass move towards UX design profession.
~2010–2018 —Flat, transparent, simple UI trends. Speed up in slow paced earlier found technologies like AI, AR, VR, voice. Start of tool oriented narrowed jobs for designers like SketchApp, InVision expert designers. All due to competitive market, work loads in organisations, so the agile methods.
~2019 — Strategical move towards the trend of dark mode and simplicity. Increase in demand of tool oriented jobs. Need of SketchApp, InVision, Figma expert in job descriptions. Entrepreneurship(s). UX is been covered mostly during research and rest been taken care by smart design tools. (Start of AI steps)
~2019–2030 — UI evolution have been very systematic and meaningful till here. Now in next steps to head towards 3D-PHI…
“The vital requirements of holographic UI to make it meaningful , there has to be no background, there has to be thin border UI elements with no fill, there has to be neon or monochrome visuals, there has to be mature gestural technology. All of the above — humans has to be learned every aspect of it ‘bit by bit’ before reaching there and be familiar, adjusted with 3d-projection interface system with time (A seamless zero learning continuum journey).”
Continuum evolution of UI is strategical and natural based on technology, business opportunities, user needs and learnings.
Lets go through some more specific examples of UI’s evolution and reasonings behind them, which have been very logical to meet with improving technologies, growing business opportunities, changing user needs and learnings.
1. From white to dark mode
This change trended as day-night mode, eye health, background recedes etc. Which is again meaningful in particular time period of UI journey but its also part of long journey, where it makes users to learn and be familiar to filter the background and focus only on UI elements (no interrupting elements, backgrounds). Slowly users will forget there was any background used to be in UI. Dark mode helps in this human learning. If tomorrow UI is projected in 3d-space, user would already be habitual to focus only on UI elements. This also logical from technology and intuitiveness perspective as projected UI don’t need background. Background or white background in 3d-projected UI will make the projected UI meaningless and counterintuitive in 3d space.
2. From solid UI elements to thin border, no fill, transparent UI elements
This change trended as simplicity and cleaner UI, which is again meaningful in particular time period of UI journey, but in long term its also part of step by step natural process towards evolution of 3D-PHI. Holographic projection UI elements makes sense with thin border, no fill and transparency. Imagine if UI’s of 2000 could be projected in 3d-space, would it be meaningful, intuitive or even UX legible?
3. From touch technology to ‘addition’ of matured gestural technology
Soon parallel to AI and other methods of human commands to machines and computers, we may soon see the great leap in maturity of gestural technology . Which anyway taken baby steps in form of AR, VR and MR. Which could take inputs from face expressions, types of movements and it is advancing. AR, VR and MR in today’s time are great technologies but not being used as vital piece of user interface but touch technology is. Because its part of natural evolution that we are developing gesture technology in parts to combine them as fully grown gestural technology of tomorrow and for highly meaningful implementation of it with 3d-projection holographic UI.
Already a lot of conceptualisation, research and technology works are happening in parts around the globe towards this development and will be combined together at right time in near future based on business growth steps, user learnings and viable establishment of holographic interface technical systems.