By now, you probably know the story. Steve Jobs hated the plastic screen on an iPhone prototype. He demanded that it be glass. And that eventually led him to Corning, who made an amazing glass in the 1960s, called Gorilla Glass, which hadn’t found any commercial applications. After Jobs cajoled Corning into creating Gorilla Glass factories virtually overnight, the iPhone was a hit, and Corning became part of one of the most watershed products in history.
Corning was already a technology company--they sold loads of fiber optics from the 1990s on--but now the company was something more. Glass was back, baby.
Nowhere is Corning’s newfound confidence seen more than in their “A Day Made of Glass 2” video, which shares the company’s latest vision for a glass-based future--to the extreme. “Do note that the videos are not just a story about glass,” warns Lisa Burns, director of corporate marketing and branding at Corning. “They also speak to how we will communicate and use technology in the future.” Maybe.
Corning’s disclaimer aside, the video is an all-you-can-eat glass buffet. Glass tablets. Glass dashboards. Glass projectors. Glass giant screens. Glass windows that double as screens. Glass with hearts. Glass with dinosaurs. Glass networked with even more glass.
Specifically, and a bit ironically, the most important technology in this vision is an all-around better version of glass, one that’s considerably more durable, more flexible and backed by countless interface designers creating highly contextual applications. “There are technical challenges to overcome to achieve the vision we portrayed, but they fall within Corning’s area of expertise,” writes Burns. “Clearly, the future may not turn out exactly like we showed in the videos, but we are working with many customers right now to make these technologies a reality. With companion technologies, we believe that our vision is possible.” But she should be worried: After all, why would you install all this glass when it’s just as easy to install sensors for gestural interfaces and LCD projectors?
Part of me loves every bit of this video, as I’m smitten by clear tablets and the elegance of curvy, transparent walls. But the video borders on self-parody at times: For example, a little girl goes to her closet and pulls up potential wardrobe choices on the touchscreen mirror. Instead of, say, opening the closet door. Whatever the future of touchscreens might be, I’m pretty sure that it won’t involve making simple things even more complex.