It’s easy to be dazzled by the power of today’s technology – we’ve become obsessed by speed and functionality. But stop for a moment. Ignore the millimetre measurements and the gigahertz ratings. There’s often a delicate beauty to technology that many people miss.
You can see it in the aerodynamic curves of a hybrid supercar like the BMW i8, which
combines BMW’s eDrive electric technology with a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine. The low-slung aluminium chassis is wrapped in carbon fibre panels, each one fitted into an elegant wedge shape shaved with an eye-catching swoosh.
There’s beauty in the chiselled angles of the futuristic-looking Lytro Illum that sets it apart from chunkier digital cameras, and in the smooth, sculpted swell of an Eclipse TD-M1 speaker. While the carbon fibre Audi e-bike concept features a futuristic and elegant design that’s almost impossible to dislike.
Beautiful technology isn’t always obvious either. The Swiss-made Withings Activité is a smartwatch that doesn’t look like a smartwatch – resolutely analogue and wonderfully minimalist.
Look at the way that light hits a 12-inch silicon wafer. When you hold one at just the right angle, a rainbow sheen smears across a grid of perfect processors, in this case the etched ranks of 14nm, dual core Intel Core M (Broadwell) chips destined for future tablets and notebooks.
Take a moment to appreciate the beauty in ‘big data’. Using information from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite, an ultra-high-resolution computer model shows pirouettes of carbon dioxide across the Earth’s atmosphere from May 2005 to June 2007. You can watch the eye-opening video below.
Closer to the ground, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awards the annual Stirling Prize to “the architects of the building which has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year.” RIBA awarded the 2014 accolade to Liverpool’s revamped Everyman Theatre, praising it as “a building that instinctively you want to reach out and touch.”
From beauty in the real world, look out for beauty in the virtual world too. Today’s powerful PCs and games consoles can deliver unparalleled experiences and stunning levels of detail from the lifelike character models in Final Fantasy XV and Uncharted 4 to the perfect pixels of a video game planetrise over an alien world in No Man’s Sky.
What is the most beautiful thing in technology that you’ve seen? Is it the stainless steel Apple Watch with an intricate Milanese Loop strap? Or a Pixelstick tracing roulette curves of coloured light in a darkened city street? Let us know in the comments below.