Monday, April 20, 2009

Limits of Interaction (Patti Maes & Andy Rutledge)

I have earlier written about the "cost of interaction" and on that theme I want to recommend you to watch this video from the TED conference by Pattie Maes, maybe some of you have seen this before, it is quite fun and interesting. The demonstration really does, what I also have recently written about, open new design spaces.

When you have watched it, you can read this highly critical review of Maes' demonstration by Andy Rutledge. He argues that Maes' "demonstrates a measure of irresponsibility, misrepresented facts, and shallow thinking".

The demonstration itself and the review taken together shows us what we will see much more of in the future since the imagination among designers and the development of technology seems infinite. It is inevitable that with such a development, questions will be asked. How interactive do we want our environment to be? In what ways can interactivity that helps me be intrusive for others? Who has the resposibility when it comes to our future interactive environment? What is the responsibility when designers excell in "exploring potential design spaces"?

Watch, read, and think...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Interactive Innovations and Design Spaces II

In my last post with the same title as this one, I discussed how new technology and new ideas opens up new design spaces. Today a student of mine, Sarah Reeder, tweeted about another example of new technology that also leads to new explorations when it comes to interaction design. And as Sarah wrote in her tweet, "flexible OLED displays excite me". I could not agree more!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Interactive Innovations and Design Spaces

Quite often I am surprised by some new form of interactive artifact, with a technology, form, or function that I have not been able to forsee or imagine. For instance, today I saw the Moixa Sphere. It is not the thing in itself, even though the Sphere is fascinating, that is the most interesting aspect of this new artifact, instead it is that when I see the Sphere, I can imagine a whole new space of possible interactive artifacts, functions, uses, etc. The design space increases.

But, even though I am easily fascinated by new technology, when I see these new innovations my reaction is usually the same. I am surprised and fascinated by the technology and the new design space, but quite disappointed with the function or application that is used to introduce the technology. This is a consequence of the fact that the innovative design is technology driven and not neccesarily human centered. But, what I have learned over the years is that the worst mistake is to dismiss a new innovation as useless based on the application instead of focusing on the potential design space that the technology is opening up. To be able to see and imagine new potential design spaces is a crucial skill of being a good interaction designer! So, what design space do you see when you look at the Moixa Sphere?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Cost of Interaction

It is obvious that a growing number of things and environments are becoming increasingly interactive. This means that we as humans in these environments have to interact with these things in a more sophisticated and deliberate way. At the same time we know that any interaction, or interactive session, requires some time, effort, and attention. This means that there is a cost of interaction. A really simple exmaple of this is when I am looking for something on the web, and I find a page but in order to get the stuff I am looking for I have to interact and to create an account etc. Of course, the purpose is that with an account I can get more and better service, but it comes with a cost of interaction, and in many situations I judge to cost to be too high and leave the page (even though the "cost" was only to write my email and straightforward info).

Is the overall interaction cost increasing since our things and environments are increasingly becoming and requiring interaction? Is there a limit to how much we want to "pay". When and why do we chose non-interactive alternatives? When do we look for interaction and when do we find interaction unacceptable?

Well, it is possible to ask many interesting questions around the notion of the cost of interaction, and I predict that this will soon become a very important aspect for all forms of interaction design!

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