While my colleagues are occupied with putting on a brilliant conference for the Technology Horizons program, I’m in Aarhus, Denmark, doing a talk at the DesignDay conference. I’m talking about the future of technology and the role of design in creating products (and by extension, company value).

There are two big points I’m working on in this talk.

First, while it used to look like the future of technology was about making things smart, it now seems clear that it’s going to be about making people smart. Smart things are a means, not an end: the end is sociability– linking to other people, and creating cooperative/collective systems for doing cool things. Design strategies that take full advantage of pervasive computing technologies, but also pay a lot of attention to interface issues, and also operate in ways that don’t crowd out person-to-person interaction, will be especially compelling.

I realized on the flight over that lots of different things I’ve studied over the last year– ranging from the open source movement to aging in place– share underlying technologies and aims that enable and/or encourage sociability and cooperative behavior. I want to try to flesh this argument out.

The second point is that Denmark has both world-class computer science researchers who are interested in pervasive computing, and an incredibly deep design community that extends from architecture and furniture through to toys and stereo equipment. (Okay, Silicon Valley is the other place where you’ve got this mix, and arguably good Japanese electronics has drawn on Japanese aesthetics. And the Koreans are trying like mad to get world-class in design.) There are already some contacts between parts of these communities (obviously Bang and Olusfen has more than its share of acoustics and electronics experts), but in the future, as wearables become a real thing, as smart furniture moves into the marketplace, as aging in place takes off, there will be opportunities for Danish companies and design firms working all across the industrial/product spectrum to create value by collaborating with pervasive computing people.

We’ll see how it goes.

(Incidentally, I’m keeping meticulous records of the trip at my personal blog, and have a Flickr photo set devoted to my views of Denmark.)