Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Zero UI: The end of the screen-based interface

Andy Goodman (Cortica)
4:35pm–5:15pm Wednesday, 06/24/2015
Location: Cowell Theater (Herbst Pavilion)
Average rating: ***..
(3.90, 20 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge

Attendees should have an understanding of digital landscape as well as design, user experience, and technical vernacular.


It’s hard to imagine a world not dominated by screens, but that may well be where we are heading. We are so attached to our screens—the glowing rectangle in the corner of the room, on our kitchen tables, by our bedside, and in our pockets—that they have come to redefine much of what it is to be human across the world in over the past 20 years.

It seems impossible for the behaviors, habits, devices, and interactions we have so rapidly absorbed into the fabric of our lives to not continue indefinitely from here on in. This is probably what society thought about the steam engine in the 18th Century as well. We are entering a new era of Zero UI: not only is the technology already being invented, but emergent products and services are already in the market that will usher in this shift.

Zero UI refers to a paradigm where our movements, voice, glances, and even thoughts can all cause systems to respond to us through our environment. At its extreme, it implies a screen-less, invisible user interface where natural gestures trigger interactions, as if the user was communicating to another person. It would require many technologies to converge and become significantly more sophisticated, particularly voice recognition and motion sensing, but these technologies are evolving rapidly.

The word “screen” itself has tension: It simultaneously means an object we look at and something that we hide behind. Even the small hand-sized device becomes a barrier in social situations, absorbing our gaze and taking us away elsewhere. The replacement of these monolithic screen-based devices by ambient technology that surrounds and immerses us may in the end be a very good thing; social interactions could become more natural again and not as obviously mediated by devices. Our attention could again return to the people sitting across the dining table, instead of those half a continent away.

In this talk we will explore the technologies, theories, and possible futures of Zero UI; what it means to design and build these interfaces; and what it will mean to live alongside or even “inside” them. Zero UI will not be limited to personal devices but will extend to homes, entire cities, even environments and ecosystems, and as a result will have a massive impact on society as a whole.

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 games, interactive TV, and mobile industries Andy now leads Fjord in the US. Here he helps some of the world’s biggest brands transform their businesses through design innovation.

The earliest mark he made was the creation of the first iTV services in the UK with Sky Interactive, where he was head of design. Andy and his team developed the first pay-to-play games suite for TV, which made millions of pounds in their first few weeks after launch. They have gone on to be the single most profitable and best-loved element of Sky’s iTV offering.

On the back of this success Andy moved to the games industry, where he oversaw the development of pan-European cross-platform games services that broke new ground in quality and technical ambition. Andy was responsible for managing large-scale complex projects with multiple stakeholders from the TV and digital industries, and for delivering services that were profitable and exceeded customer expectation. Since 2004 Andy has specialised in mobile and cross-platform convergent services, working on strategic projects for companies such as Telefonica, Ericsson, Vodafone, Orange, Nokia, and Samsung.

As one of the pioneers of the service design industry, he is forever looking beyond the interface to create service experiences that shape the world in which people are beginning to live. He joined Fjord in London in early 2008, where he was director of service design. In October 2009 he became MD of Fjord’s new studio in Madrid, which has rapidly become one of the most in-demand suppliers in the Spanish market, and has the reputation as a transformer of the digital banking business, for clients such as BBVA, Barclays, Santander, Banco Sabadell, and Bankinter. Most recently he has moved to New York to oversee the US operation.

Andy is a frequent speaker at global conferences and events, including SxSW, Interaction13, TED Talent Search, TEDx Madrid, and Mobile 2.0. His writing on emerging technology has been published in numerous magazines and books. When Andy isn’t thinking about the future, he still tries to emulate great scientists, but his experimentation isn’t in a lab. It’s in the kitchen, where he is working on the perfect curry recipe.

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Picture of Kate Benson
Kate Benson
06/28/2015 8:37pm PDT

Hello, would it be possible to receive your slide deck ? Thanks !