When the ?25-Year Old Blue Sky Idea? Becomes the Standard

Modern iPhone users take Siri for granted since many probably assume she originated overnight, but to the contrary, she was a 25-year long idea in the making.?? The Knowledge Navigator video footage from 1987 shows what Apple envisioned for the future and shows an intelligent user interface function acting the same way a real live personal assistant would.

The assistant featured in the video, maybe Siri?s older brother, answers the phone, responds back to the user through natural language processing, intelligently interprets the request and sends back the appropriate responses, and performs very humanly tasks including answering the phone, leaving messages, reminding the user of upcoming events like his mother?s birthday, finds articles for his upcoming lecture in seconds, and can hold a normal conversation with the user.? Pretty remarkable predictions from 1987 ? and remarkable the predicted time of release quoted in the video was September 2011.

In 1987, or years before when the idea was just getting formulated, many probably assumed this type of technology could never happen, and what we at Roundarch Isobar coin as our ?Blue-Sky thinking? early on a project where all ideas are noted, as seemingly bizarre or unrealistic as they may appear.?? But what started out as a lofty idea, is now something that through years of dedication to the vision, the idea became a real product very similar to the original concept.? The video also features a tablet very similar to an iPad.

Jared Spool points out that the past 24 years Apple has been taking steps to make that early concept a reality and using the tools readily available:

?With the introduction of the Mac Book, then the iPhone, followed by the iPad, we got our table. The interwebs provided the connectivity, where Apple focused on its Airport wireless products to get the components tiny. Innovations like built-in cameras and Facetime made the video conferencing a reality.

And now Siri completes the journey. Siri isn?t quite the bow-tied dude who can order a cake for your mother?s birthday party, but it?s damn close.?

This goes to show that with an awesome idea that seems totally unrealistic, with patiece, vision, practicality (by using what is already developed and existing), the crazy idea can be a tangible reality.? The evolution of Knowledge Navigator over the past 25 years should be inspiration for our future design sessions, especially when we get pigeon-holed into thinking about the here and now, and only the task at hand.