Glass, progress in computing comes from unforeseen sources.

My comments aren't about Google glass just to be clear. This post is about the more important glass we will be looking through and touching over the next many years. I say more important because this glass has already changed the way we use computers.  Example, Corning's Gorilla Glass replacement Safire, which will introduce a third generation of it's durable high tech glass used in touch screens like the one found in the iPhone and iPad. As materials go, this glass is fascinating. The casserole king of my childhood literally baked up the final ingredient for Steve Jobs to bring us the iPhone. A whole computer revolution thing happened since the days of mom's casseroles. Much like Apple during the timespan, Corning almost died as a company and from there was resurrected to be a very important part of why we do what we do with computers today. 

I still bake with glassware and I have other devices now instead of a laptop for computing including the iPad. Most of the time our Apple's are being consumed by the youngest members of our household.  Believe me when I say that Gorilla Glass has been thoroughly tested here and yes the stuff is tuff, there might be a scratch or two but after what my children have put these machines through, I am amazed they are not broken. The highest commodity in the household is iPad time. Which mean lots of touching and perhaps some angry tug-of-war. The fact that you access the device through the display together with the durability has change the way we work and play with computers. 

I remember the first time I touched a flat panel. In those days art directors and graphic designers would sit nervously next to their monitors waiting for someone to lift a finger. Inevitably when I wanted to point out a detail and before my finger even made it close to the surface of the display, I'd hear. 


An often repeated phrase. When I first heard it, I thought someone had sneezed.

I made it a point to touch it when he wasn't looking.  The surface was so soft and squishy.  Todays computer screens are a different animal. The glass we look through today may be as much a high tech marvel as the silicon behind it and this new glass has allowed for a new form of human computer interaction. One example of that is the ubiquity of smart phones. One could argue that, because they are so light, so responsive, and so durable it is easy to see why people might want to carry them everywhere they go. That ubiquity is changing the way we interact with computers. It's also changing the mechanics of our computing tasks.  Consider the array of tasks open to our children because of the development of the iPhone and iPad. My daughter is 5.  She can search youtube.  My son is 8 and understands the concept of a server and connecting with a log in and password.  He has already asked for his own account and password for a number of services.  Low and behold they both can use Siri, something I haven't done yet.

More than likely if you use a computer for work, then you carry one with you and also a smart phone and those two vectors are coming together to be one easy to identify line. The software for this new age of devices is developing at breakneck speed. Watching the apps being developed either for Apple or Android reveals so much about the monumental competition going on within the computer industry. The software trends are clearly moving us towards the ability to access our computer capabilities from anywhere. As cloud and mobile computing become more mature just about every task we do becomes more accessible through these durable portable devices. Can you work on a smart phone?  Not really. Will you be able to do a full days work on a tablet? Yes, very soon. 

Human interaction with computers has changed drastically over the years.  I used to have to run across the room and tear off a piece of paper to get my output as a kid.  Punch cards aside, my children's reality is much different.  Computers are touch friendly now.  And, because of the shrinking form factor and durability, the devices are becoming fully integrated into human behavior. Ever take your laptop to bed?  Ok maybe, but how about your workstation.  I find my iPad under my son's pillow almost 3 times a week. (compared to my wife's iPhone under her pillow EVERY morning). 

The ever presence of these new computers means that durability becomes a key factor like battery life, security and accessibility. Corning GG3 and their new Lotus glass will push the science and application of these new glass technologies to the forefront of our everyday computing experience.  They are wonderful examples of our progress in applied computer technology.  So what?  Not only does that make the glass industry interesting again and involved in all major computing, it makes for better computer durability and more human interaction, which in turn opens up the door for the new device ubiquity something even Google would love.

©Tom Voorhees 2013

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