The (Fictional) Future of Love

Can Product Design Save Sex and the Modern Relationship?Inverse header

I was recently interviewed by Yasmin Tang for Inverse magazine. She wanted to know about my collaboration with Ernesto D. Morales, on our design fiction project.

OS’ “The Future of Love” initiative, which just kicked off, is intended to be a genuine inquiry into the everyday inconveniences that diminish romance and a search for products that might augment it. Ernesto D. Morales, the company’s founder, isn’t saying technology can solve all matters of the heart, but he does think it’s worth exploring. He posed the following question to Inverse: “How will we know what changes driven by technology we prefer or don’t prefer if we don’t think about what those could be?”

Take a second and read that again. It’s a reasonable point.

The project involves our generating ideas for objects that solve relationships “problems” through extreme user-centered design with a twist. We bend the laws of physics, rules of chemistry, social norms and common sensical ideas of what is sensible or cost effective. And voila, we will generate objects that are solidly within the realm of innovation and somewhere in the borderlands between real lived experience and science fiction reality.

For Ronen, there’s no debating that technology can offer solutions to relationship woes. It did so just 50 years ago: “The internet and the cell phone are the automobile of the 1990s-2000 youth generation,” she explained to Inverse, referencing the legacy of “Make Out Point” and the need for private spaces. Her question is how to examine the incidental romantic benefits of consumer tech in order to understand what new products with more direct benefits might look like.

In a sense, the technologies here are the questions themselves and the legitimization of technological inquiry into romance. Marital aids aren’t the talk of Silicon Valley, but in many cases they provide the service advertised. Surely there are other things we can do and products we can build — products that don’t vibrate, but do help us get in tune with each other.

This summer we are hoping folks will help us by suggesting “problems” for us to ideate around. Help us out here.

Read the full Inverse piece here.

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