Saturday, April 01, 2006

HCI and the "material turn"

One of the major changes we are experiencing today in the field of HCI might be called the "material turn". This turn has been predicted and explored by concepts such as pervasive and ubiquitous computing, tangible computing, ambient computing, and very recently with the term "Everyware" by Adam Greefield. One aspect of this material turn is that digital material is literally everywhere, the other aspect is the fusion and blending of materials. Physical materials become dynamic materials or transmaterials with the capacity of changing form, shape, color, and texture. Some of these materials will have the characteristics of being both digital and physical. This is not really something to be surprised about, but it seems as if HCI has not fully grasped this change. The prevaling idea that interaction with digital material is through "windows" on screens is so dominating that the common notion is even that these "windows" reside on our desks in the form of personal computers. To be in the field of HCI is right now more exciting than ever. The changes and challenges to come with the material turn are extraordinary and intriguing. And the fun part is that the interaction design space suddenly and radically grows and we have the opportunity to design our environments in a new and hopefully more human way.

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