In David Rose‘s apartment, the umbrella predicts rain, the pill bottle refills its own prescription, and the doorbell tells him who’s approaching. His family is living in the future he believes we can all share, surrounded by what he has dubbed “Enchanted Objects.”
Rose, an instructor and researcher at the MIT Media Lab, recently welcomed the New York Times into his home. In comparing it to the Burrow of the wizarding Weasley family from the Harry Potter series, the Times reporter was not going out on a limb: Rose’s new book, Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire and the Internet of Things, “proposes that the most delightful, successful smart things mimic the qualities found in the magical tools of fantasy and folklore—Excalibur or Sting, the swords of Arthur and Frodo, say, or the talking mirror in ‘Snow White’—by doing one or two things really well or, as he puts it, by fulfilling ‘human drives with emotional engagement and élan.'”
Technology doesn’t just create new things, like smartphones, Rose argues—it imbues old ones with the ability to ease or enrich small aspects of everyday life.
Not everyone, however, has fallen under the spell of these objects. As Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, points out to the Times, “If you remember your fairy tales, there is always a cost.”
Hear Rose discuss the entrepreneurial implications of his book with BetaBoston.
See Rose’s “periodic table of enchanted objects.”