Friday, September 4, 2009

Invisible Interface Design is a Growing Field

New devices know which way we're moving, how dark it is outside, and what we intend to do. They look us in the eye while we're looking at them. They sometimes even understand when we talk to them.

There is untapped potential in designing for physical interactivity that doesn't involve touching anything at all. Some of these interfaces track facial expressions, gestures, voice, light, or movement. Children's video games already use inexpensive cameras and devices for touchless game play.

Some of these devices are as mundane as the faucets and hand driers found in many public bathrooms, automatic doors at the grocery store, or "the clapper". Here are some questions provided by a company called LUNAR Design that you could use with students to prompt them to think about existing and future designs for invisible interfaces.

When is touch not the best way of interfacing with a digital product?
What are contexts where today's physical interfaces just don't do a good enough job?
What will we do when it is illegal to use handheld cell-phones in the car?
What do you do if you want to look up a recipe and have your hands full?
What products already successfully use touchless interfaces?
What touchless interface products fail and why?
How can sound be better utilized as an interface?
How can physical design effect a touchless interface?

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