Responsive design, in the jargon of website developers, is a technique that optimizes the user experience and adapts the layout to the viewing audience.

In a basic example (sorry to the experts), a photo will be on the right of the screen, if the site is accessed using a computer. However, if accessed on a phone it may be below the rest of the content. If you do not understand, try changing the window size of this site and see how your experience measures up.

To broaden this concept a bit, we can assume that we are more a likely to use multiple screens. Starting with the television, it will not be long before emerging experiences feature “responsive design” that is compatible with multi-screen viewing. If I have a phone, a tablet and a TV in my living room, what is the best way to enjoy The Voice? Video on the tablet, a live Twitter stream on the TV and the phone as a remote? If I have am a heavy Twitter user, should I tweet via the tablet and use the TV for streaming video? Can I watch two videos at once, from two camera angles? What is the best configuration for this? Should the viewer or the media producer decide? One suspects, this field of investigation is in its early days…

Eventually, I suspect we will see responsive ecosystems that take into account the fact that a user interacts with multiple devices simultaneously. Netflix could create a much better viewing experience if it were able to detect that I am in my living room with my PS3 AND my tablet or another if it knows that I am using my console. The ideas are beginning to be realized with the announcement of the new Xbox 360.

The company NDS, spotted by Wired, has designed a prototype that pushes this idea even further. It created a living room wall that is a huge screen divided into portions that change roles depending on who is in front of them or time of day.

Read more from Jean Pascal at A Nos Vies Numériques.