Just saw this article about some new Apple patent. It is interesting how it moves toward a situation of new interactive modes, and particularly interaction without an interface. This is something that Lars-Erik Janlert and I have written about and discussed in some detail in a recent article.
Janlert, L-E., & Stolterman, E. (forthcoming). Faceless Interaction - a conceptual examination of the notion of interface: past, present and future. In the journal Human-Computer Interaction.
In the article we present a historical overview of how the interface has been understood over time. We also discuss some issues that interaction design is facing today, such as shrinking devices (less space for an interface) but increasing functionality (more this to do). We examine different ways this dilemma is handled today. And we specifically examine the idea of getting rid of the interface (as in the Apple patent above). We also discuss new issues such as cluttering which will become the next big interaction problem.
This is the abstract from the article
"In the middle of the present struggle to keep interaction complexity in check as artifact complexity continues to rise and the technical possibilities to interact multiply, the notion of interface is scrutinized. First, a limited number of previous interpretations or thought styles of the notion are identified and discussed. This serves as a framework for an analysis of the current situation with regard to complexity, control, and interaction, leading to a realization of the crucial role of surface in contemporary understanding of interaction. The potential of faceless interaction, interaction that transcends traditional reliance on surfaces, is then examined and discussed, liberating possibilities as well as complicating effects and dangers are pointed out, ending with a sketch of a possibly emerging new thought style."