Beyond Touch: the future of interaction

Follow the link to read “A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design” by Bret Victor. The briefest of summaries would be that we over-use simple touch in our visions of the future, when we could be including many other cues, such as weight and balance.

From the post:

If you’re with me so far, maybe I can nudge you one step further. Look down at your hands. Are they attached to anything? Yes — you’ve got arms! And shoulders, and a torso, and legs, and feet! And they all move!

Any dancer or doctor knows full well what an incredibly expressive device your body is. 300 joints! 600 muscles! Hundreds of degrees of freedom!

The next time you make breakfast, pay attention to the exquisitely intricate choreography of opening cupboards and pouring the milk — notice how your limbs move in space, how effortlessly you use your weight and balance. The only reason your mind doesn’t explode every morning from the sheer awesomeness of your balletic achievement is that everyone else in the world can do this as well.

With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future Of Interaction should be a single finger?



Photo credit jstarpl @ Flickr

3 thoughts on “Beyond Touch: the future of interaction”

  1. Of course, the only reason your ipad doesn’t explode in your hands is that it doesn’t have to interact with your entire body and all 300 joints and hundreds of DOF to figure out what you’re trying to do.

    We’ll get there, but the technology doesn’t really support it yet, if you ask me.

  2. Nick – as I read it, the rant was primarily about visions of the future relying too much of current standards/modes of interaction. Your comment that current technology doesn’t support it yet is well-taken, but I think the point of the article goes deeper: to design for the future one must think beyond the paradigms dictated by current design.

  3. I was just looking this up because I’m teaching about the cutaneous system in my Perception class today. It seems that the current systems rely almost exclusively on stimulation of the skin on a device, whereas they should also be considering use of proprioception & kinesthesis. Is that an accurate statement?

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