As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming “Internet of things.” Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a “super organism” capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.
It’s an exciting time to be an interface designer. How we interact with our computers and electronics has been changing over the past couple years, and that evolution only seems to be speeding up. With change comes opportunity, so it’s a perfect time for creatives and business-people alike to embrace this change to be among the first to make history.
In the past 5 years the touch screen has emerged as the de facto method for casual interaction with computers. With the iPad still selling strong, Microsoft’s Windows 8 (Metro) embracing touch, Apple integrating It’s “gestures” feature into all It’s pointing devices and what feels like dozens of new touch screen products being pushed out monthly from smartphones to refrigerators, It’s a sign of the times and a welcome transition away from the point-and-click mouse.
Moving forward we’re going to start seeing continued innovation of the touch screen. Thanks to Microsoft, Fujitsu, Samsung, Apple and other big money tech companies, we should see the following technologies in your smartphone and electronics very soon:
- Double-sided touch interfaces
- Transparent screens
- More emphasis on pressure, including variation and texture
- Use of larger touch screens as interface extensions
- Face, eye and fingerprint recognition
- Bending of display as an interaction
It would be wise for any digital designer to keep this emerging tech in mind as devices and interaction patterns continue to evolve. In the past we were constrained to two input methods; the mouse, and the keyboard. Even with touch screen devices our primary input is our finger (mimicking the idea of the mouse) and in rare cases the gyroscope. In the next couple of years we’re going to have to start also keeping in mind that we won’t necessarily be limited to a single front-facing screen (or no sides if holograms are embraced), and we’ll be able to use screen flexibility, motion gestures, speech, eye movement, and only God knows what else.
Soon we’ll once again have to redesign how we interact with these devices, and rethink what’s the most efficient way to consume media we’re already used to. Although it’s easy for us to get intimidated by all the new technology emerging day-by-day, we can at least rest assured we’re designing around the same content types we’ve had around since we were kids (video, text, audio, etc).
With that said, maybe It’s time for us to do some sketching, or even designing a prototype. Opportunity is knocking, let’s get to work!