“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent”.
— Joe Sparano

All the tools human had been using from the begining of its existence were intuitive by its nature, until electricity was invented in 19th century. At that moment, when mankind progressed from lever to button we lost the connection between the action and the actual feedback of the system. Now we are going through the period of surfaces which are even further from natural behavioral patterns. Now to use new technologies people should learn how to do it and get used to it. Unlike buttons surfaces do not provide a tactile feedback. (http://www.slideshare.net/billder/history-of-the-button-at-sxsw)

Nowadays, to use advanced technologies you should communicate with it using different input devices and touch-screens. And under those glossy surfaces you could see the interface which also needs learning. People just can not get to the work right away.

“The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job”.
— Don Norman

With the rise of the Internet of things we can see more and more new solutions which helps us to use technologies around us intuitively, using more natural movements and gestures without any additional input devices but the human body itself. But with those solutions we have got new challenges such as most of the natural interfaces are hidden; that is why, people still need learning on how to use it, but at least the time needed to learn how to use it decreases to almost no time.

We are at the very begining of this journey, because we still have some issues with those solutions, like:

  • low affordance:
    “So how can we make hidden interfaces more usable? Enforce more consistency, align with natural actions (video below), allow natural speech, include clear cues, and ….?”
    — Luke Wroblewski, http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1947
  • low precision:
    We are not at the stage of accuracy, when we could rely on the input of such technologies for the professional systems.
  • Confusion and even fear created by “smartness” of technologies around us.

Timo Arnall makes few great points on the disadvantages of the whole “NoUI” movement in his article “No to NoUI”

Actually, the future of interfaces could not be descpibed like “invisible interfaces” or “NoUI”, because what we can see today is that interfaces are not becoming invisible, they are becoming increasingly social and tangible. They just getting rid of the unneccesary complexness.

Further reading:
Natural user interface — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_user_interface
The best interface is no interface — https://www.cooper.com/journal/2012/08/the-best-interface-is-no-interface