Design the Future
January 19–20, 2016: Training
January 20–22, 2016: Conference
San Francisco, CA

Making Zero UI: A design framework for invisible interfaces

Andy Goodman (Cortica)
2:05pm Thursday, 01/21/2016
Design for a greater good
Location: Festival Pavilion - Main Stage
Average rating: ***..
(3.35, 23 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

Participants should be familiar with interaction design, service design, and emerging technology.


Technology has a habit of enslaving us. The way we interact with our devices is more akin to dealing with a needy child than a helpful companion. As Golden Krishna rants in his brilliant book The Best Interface Is No Interface, the current solution to any interaction design problem is to “slap a screen on it.” But a growing number of people are disenchanted with our addiction to screens. Liberation is possible through thoughtful application of human-centered service design. We call it Zero UI. Zero UI is a provocative battle cry to consider other ways we can interact with devices and systems, including haptics, gesture, and voice, and create systems that can understand our intentions, predict our behavior, and perhaps even read our minds.

At Fjord, we have been hard at work developing a design framework for Zero UI. Figuring out the rules for designing invisible interfaces will require a leap of imagination, skill, and knowledge for designers, a jump almost as big as the leap from the 2D world of print design to the 3D world of web design. Now, instead of linear flows with defined sets of actions and outcomes, we must start to think in “4D,” as we orchestrate and choreograph scenarios in which the actor can do just about anything in any direction. Designers will need to take an interest in biology, psychology, data analytics, computer vision, and audio design, as well as architecture and physics. Quite a list. We may need to start designing with spreadsheets rather than Photoshop.

Andy Goodman explores the design framework for Zero UI and the rules for designing invisible interfaces. If we crack this, we may be able to start designing elegant, frictionless services that push screens to the background and allow us to actually converse with the people sitting next to us, to really look again at the magnificent cities we live in and the sublime landscapes we travel through.

Photo of Andy Goodman

Andy Goodman


Andy is a futurist. He’s been a digital native since 1994, when he wrote a documentary called “Secrets of the Internet.” Along with his love of digital, scientists inspire him: brilliant people who make extraordinary discoveries and work to transform reality. After many years in the design industry Andy now leads the Consumer Product division of Cortica in the US. Here he works with a very clever group of Neuroscientists and Theoretical Physicists to build products that will advance how machines understand images. The computer vision platform they have built works by modeling the cortical network. Andy is a frequent speaker at global conferences and events including SxSW, Interaction13, TED Talent Search, TEDx Madrid, and SolidCon. and his writing on emerging technology has been published in numerous magazines and books.