Picture a vision of the high-tech future. Go on, picture it. In your fleshy meat-brain.
Did it involve a lot of brushed aluminium, clean white plastic coated things and bright blue LEDs? If it does, I’m not surprised. That’s been the default vision of the future since bright blue LEDs first came on the market in the early 1990s.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) only appeared around 30 years before that, and red LED displays defined the look of the future for quite some time… particularly in the form of seven-segment LED displays, which were used to form things that looked close enough to letters and numbers if you squinted a bit and turned your head slightly. But red LEDs lost their appeal over the course of the 1980s… after all, anything fashionable in one decade is destined to be deeply unfashionable in the next.
In the 90s, though, the future turned blue. Now, two decades later, it’s still blue. Blue LEDs are still seen as the look of the future. Even though the black mirror of the touchscreen has taken over to a certain extent, the black mirror still often finds itself in the company of the “searingly bright so it illuminates the whole room” blue LED.
They’re so bright and so blue that I’ve taken to sticking a square of black PVC electrical tape over every blue LED, just to dampen the light of the future enough to let me sleep at night. They’re everywhere. Clearly nobody sleeps in the blue-LED illuminated future.
So, designers of the world… what should the new future be? Black mirrors everywhere, more blue LEDs, or down the natural and sustainable materials route? I know I’d prefer the latter, but it really doesn’t sell that well. The future isn’t the future these days unless it’s on sale on the high-street, after all…